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 to worry about the infringement. The world is full of people who will steal your photos. It happens to me every week. But there are remedies for that. And there are other steps you can take if you want to avoid infringement.
(This post is written from a USA bias. If you live outside the USA, consult legal counsel in your area for more information to see how this applies to you.)
1. Register your Copyrights with the Library of Congress. This allows you to sue (for money) the infringers. I do this regularly. I am aggressive about it. It creates a nice income stream for me, and often provides more income that the images would have made if they were legally licensed. Do I wish that I didn’t have to sue people? Sure. But I’m not going to let them keep me from showing my work. WHERE I show my work and HOW I show my work may be controlled, but I WILL show my work.
2. If you don’t have time or money or interest in protecting your Copyrights, then make your images unappealing to the infringers. Keep your images to 400 pixels on the longest side. Put a watermark on the images. Keep your resolution to 72PPI. Be careful where you post your images. Use file names that are easily traceable to you so you can do searches to find unauthorized use. Issue DMCA takedown notices to service providers that host infringers. You do have the power.
While your images will still be stolen for web use, nobody’s going to be able to use them in editorial reproduction or print. And placing them in a lockbox where nobody will ever see them is worse than having them stolen.