Wednesday, December 2, 2009

protecting your copyright

I recently had a disturbing experience with one of the websites I use to post my artwork and I want to share it. I know there is not too much I can do to control what happens once my art images are posted on the internet other than putting my copyright with every image posted. It makes you wonder how much you really want to make available on the world wide web. is a free website people can use to post photos of anything - whether it be family photographs, images of artwork, or any other type of jpg. I have been using the site to post my artist trading cards and have been trading with other members; we view each other's cards once they are posted and then choose our individual trades. I decided to also post some of my larger paintings because I wanted to share the type of art I create with the members I have met. What I didn't expect was to find my painting images copied into random member made galleries! I had one member ask if he could use my painting in his gallery, and had another member copy the image and include it in his online gallery without even asking me! After this happened, I decided to review the flickr privacy controls and that is when I discovered that I had to change how accessible I wanted my images to be plus I had to decide how much I wanted to share.

In the past, I have had people visit my professional website and ask if they could copy my work for their personal reference. Many years ago a man that lived in Texas claimed to have known relatives of mine in Boston.. what are the chances? I always have known resolution of internet images is 72 dpi's and if someone is copying my work they are only getting a small thumbnail. But still, what can be done to prevent this from happening without permission? (my experience says very little without incurring legal fees).

I am about to get busy with the holiday season, the completion of another one of my courses, and even hope to continue to make time for new creating. I just felt compelled to share my warning about the lack of control over your internet copyright.


  1. Thanks for sharing your experience! Once our images are out there on the web, I don't think there's a whole lot you can do stop someone who really wants to take them. There are ways to prevent viewers from right-clicking and saving or copying your image, but I THINK that only works with pages you've created yourself, since it's code you have to include in your page. Maybe one of your other readers might know more about that. I guess the easiest thing is what you're already doing - making the images too low-res to be useful in print. Although they may show up elsewhere on the internet, at least the copier can't make money off of them that way.

  2. Yikes! That's why the paranoid side of me will not post any image larger than 700 pixels in any direction. I don't mind the idea of my paintings floating around all over the ether-world, but I DO NOT want somebody profiting from them unless I get a cut. The best way to protect our e-images would be to watermark them - which I have resisted doing so far... Great post, Robin. Thanks for the reminder.

    Also, I'd like to point out to Deborah that blocking a right-click/save or copy of an image is a good idea, but even those safeguards cannot keep a determined, creative person from capturing them for their own use.