This past week, many site owners of Zenfolio and SmugMug that shoot Boudoir photography had found out private and unlisted galleries were being accessed by people who were using these photos for ransom, personal pleasure and other terrible things. There are forums and chats specifically dedicated to figuring out passwords, sharing links and finding other […]

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I wanted to take a moment to discuss a concept you’ll often heard thrown around… it’s called Fair Use.  Now, before I go too deep — a few caveats. I am not a lawyer. Laws vary country to country. If you have questions, see a lawyer you trust. Okay, with that out of the way, […]

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We recently ran a story about Facebook’s changes to terms of service which essential require you to grant them an unlimited license (read the article here).  Many responded in the comments with a need to watermark their images more. Here are a few articles from our archives to help you out. How to Sign Your […]

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Some of you aren’t regular listeners to our podcast.  The changes to Facebook have many concerned, so we excerpted this interview so you can listen to these important opinions. Is the problem real? Yep… even the feds have gotten involved. If you post photos to Facebook, be sure to listen. Photographers are giving up even […]

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I am a member of ASMP (the American Society of Media Photographers).  They recently sent a useful update about a change to Facebook’s Terms of Service.  The use of social media is always a balance between effective promotion and sacrificing your rights as an image maker. ASMP advises strongly evaluating the new changes: The new Facebook […]

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Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

NOTE: This post was written based on my experience as a US citizen doing business from the United States. If you are not a US resident, much of the information in this post may not apply to you so consult legal help in your area to get the most accurate information. More than a year […]

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I apologize in advance for the long post. As usual, anytime I write about anything remotely related to Copyright, the kids go crazy. And this post on Twitter’s TOS was no exception. The mob has attacked me. This is nothing new. It also won’t deter me. Pretty much every time I write about something like […]

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Photos on Twitter are a reality and will soon be more closely tied to the service. Right now, many photographers use services like TwitPics to do that. The photo above from an iPhone 4 is representative of many of these photos. And for most of us, that’s not a problem. But what about the pros? […]

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Copyright Scott Bourne 2008 - All Rights Reserved

The younger you are – the more likely you are to dislike watermarks on photos. That is the result of my unscientific poll. I’ve read some articles on watermarks lately, including one at Photoshelter that caused me to think I should publish my own thoughts. Grover Sanschagrin makes the case against watermarks here. He makes […]

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Those who follow this site regularly know that I am a strong proponent of Copyright protection from photographers. If you’re someone who doesn’t care if people use your work without your permission, this information won’t be valuable to you. But if you do care about it, you need to know about ImageRights and their new […]

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NOTE: This was cross – posted at Do you actually read the Terms of Service Agreements and EULAs that you sign or click “OK” on? I bet you don’t – but you should. Especially if you are a photographer who worries about people taking your images and profiting by them without your permission or […]

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Since I often write about photography and Copyright I am painfully aware that not only do most people not understand the notion of Copyright protection, most photographers don’t even know much about it. So it stands to reason that having some additional tools will help both groups. When a client buys a print from me, […]

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There are some great photographers who we will never hear about. There are some great images we will never see. Why? Because there are those among us who are in stealth mode. They are so afraid of Copyright infringement that they never, ever show their pictures in public. It’s a shame. These photographers are right […]

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Well it’s been a while since I had a good old fashioned death threat – so here we go with another post on Copyrights. I’ve read a great deal on the Internet about the so-called “Culture of Sharing.” In a world full of nice, honest people, that would be great. But sorry, the world I […]

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I am frankly shocked to learn that most photographers don’t really have a clue when it comes to their rights under Copyright law.

I am NOT shocked to learn that most of the online community is equally ill-informed.

To help set the record straight, I am publishing the information that I personally rely on when making decisions about Copyright. I am not giving legal advice. I am sharing the information that I have received from my attorneys. You should contact a licensed attorney if you have any questions. To that end, I’ll close comments on this post.

The goal of this post is to clear up misconceptions about Copyright law. This is NOT a request for a debate on Copyright. Copyright offers serious legal protection to photographers, and it does so regardless of whether or not people agree with the concept. Continue reading

It’s a fact that many people do not understand the concept of Copyrights. In fact, some people have never heard any explanation for the word. Some Copyright infringement is the result of downright evil folks who would rather steal than pay their fair share. But a good portion of it is simple ignorance. One way […]

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For our US audience concerned about protecting their images from Copyright infringement, you should be a aware that a new “Orphan Works” bill is working its way through the US Congress. This bill could substantially weaken your rights when it comes to protecting your photos from unauthorized use. A group of interested parties has created […]

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Disclaimer: I am not a practicing attorney. I advise anyone reading this who needs legal advice to seek out and hire an attorney. In this blog post, I am detailing exactly how I register my Copyrights and summarizing conversations I’ve had with my attorneys, and the advice they’ve given to me. Use this information at your own risk. Your situation may differ from mine. When in doubt, seek legal counsel.

Additionally, this post is written from the point of view of a US citizen applying US law. If you reside outside of the US, there are likely to be different laws governing your ownership of creative works, although many foreign countries are signatories to the US Copyright Act.

In light of the recent Flickr/Myxer mess, I decided it’s time to talk about registering your copyrights. It’s the single most important thing you can do to protect your rights as a photographer.

You’ve heard it a million times. A photo is “copyrighted” when you press the shutter button. According to my attorney and other attorneys I have interviewed, this is absolutely true. Unfortunately, this doesn’t offer you much real world protection.

Title 17 of the United States Code ( covers US Copyrights. You should be familiar with this code since it governs your rights and responsibilities as a Copyright holder.

According to several attorneys that I interviewed for this piece;

When you own a copyright, you get:
To reproduce the copyrighted work;
To display the copyrighted work publicly;
To prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work; and
To distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public by sale, rental or lending, and/or to display the image.

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Recently, it’s come to light that Flickr’s API allows companies to get ready access to your Copyrighted images for the purpose of redistribution. Many blogs have already commented on this, generating much discussion. To put my post into context, please go read those posts/comments and then return to hear my take.

Jim Goldstein on How Every Flickr Photo Ended up On Sale This Weekend.

Phototrade Blog with It Is Your Fault I steal Your Photos. Accept it. Please.

FocalPower wrote Who Controls Your Photos Online.

Plagiarism Today’s Is Flickr Letting Down its Users?

and finally

Myxer (the company which published all the photos in question here responds)

Now after you’ve read all this, (or even if you haven’t) you probably have some idea that people are not happy about someone trying to profit from their work without permission. And in my opinion, that’s valid.
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