I’m a photographer. I’m also a web geek. And those two sides of my brain sometimes fight with each other.
As a photographer, I’m outraged when peoplegrab photos off the web and use them without consideration of copyright. I’ve been fighting this “It’s on the internet, so it must be free!” ignorance for more than a decade.
As a web geek, I love the freedom of the web. I love that I can share my work with the whole world, for free. This is the great gift of the internet.
So what to do? Faced with this dilemma, many photographers add a copyright notice to their photos like so.
I have two problems with this kind of copyright messaging.
Problem 1: It’s ineffective. Someone determined to disregard your copyright can easily crop this out, so it doesn’t actually solve the problem. The small percentage of jerks who want to violate my copyright still can. (Here’s where some photographers say that this action shows “willful misuse.” Okay, sure. But “willful misuse” only comes into play when you talk damages, and 99% of the time it never gets that far. There is nothing in copyright law about defacing your work with a legal notice for it to be protected.)