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Old Jul 21, 2010, 5:11 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
As I said, you can put pretty much whatever you want on the photo - as long as it isn't trademarked or copyrighted by someone else. As mentioned, a photo is copyrighted automatically without registration so there's no issue using the symbol without registration. Here's a link to help you with further research:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_symbol

Okay, let's differentiate between a copyright and a trademark.

A copyright is the rights an author has in a "creative" work (I won't get into the complexities of that definition). Books, musical recordings, certain types of computer code, sculptures, sheet music, etc., are all copyrighted. You DO NOT HAVE TO REGISTER anything to get a copyright in a work--all you have to do is create the work so it's "fixed in a tangible medium of expression." And guess what -- a digital computer copy counts.

As I said, you don't have to register anything to get copyright--the author automatically gets it (unless it's a work-for-hire, and that's a different issue). Now, to sue someone for copyright infringement (that is, someone took your work and used it, for profit or not), in the U.S., you have to register it before filing suit.

Putting the (c) symbol along with a name (and usually a date) is called "notice" or compliance with "formalities." In the U.S., "notice" used to be critical -- if you didn't provide notice, your work went into the public domain. However, to make the U.S. comply with international copyright treaties, notice is NO LONGER REQUIRED for your copyright.

Now, it's helpful. It provides details about who owns the rights to the image. It provides a date the image was created (which is important for proof later). And, better yet, it provides disincentive for people to wholesale take or use your images without your consent (because, at a minimum, they'll have to do some photoshopping to get rid of the watermark if they want to use the picture).

There's no such thing as a "copyright name." If you have a business, and if the business owns the image (because your wife is taking pictures as part of that business), then put that down. If it's just you taking pictures, you can put down your name, or an alias, or a screen name, or whatever. Just know that you have to prove, if you're ever in an infringement suit, that you're the same person who has claim to the piece of art. Also note that if you put a business down, you're telling the world that that business owns that piece of expression. If there's no business, or if you're going to claim that it's not corporately owned later, you don't want to do that.

A TRADEMARK is any word, phrase, symbol, sound, or other tangible item that is identifiable as the source of goods and services. PEPSI is a trademark, so is the Nike "SWOOSH," so is the "dingggggg... ba-bum-ba-bummmm.." Intel chimes, and so is "I'm Lovin' It." Trademarks are only used in connection with particular goods. So it's "PEPSI" for "Beverages, namely soda." the SWOOSH for "athletic apparel, namely shoes, jerseys, etc...." You get the picture.

You don't need a trademark if you're not in business (as the source of goods), and you don't have to register a trademark to have rights in one (although there are MANY MORE advantages to having a registered trademark that I won't get into here).

Trademarks protect against consumer confusion as to the source, affiliation, or sponsorship of goods. In other words, you look at something, and think, "huh, did the PEPSI people put this out, or consent to it being put out?" (There's more to this, too, but not worth discussing here).

So let's say you have a photo of a flower, shot by a pro calls his business FotoFlowerFolk. He puts a copyright notice on a the flower picture that says (c) 2010 FotoFlowerFolk, Princeton, N.J.

If you just copy the picture, you've committed copyright infringement. You may have to pay money or stop using the photo.

If you start a business called FlowerFotoFolks, and you put out a picture of, say, dogs, but affix your business name to it, you might be liable for trademark infringement. But there, the first FotoFlowerFolk can't make you stop taking pictures, or get control over your photos, he can just stop you from calling your photography business FlowerFotoFolks.

If you hold yourself out as FotoFlowerFolk ("Hey everyone, look at the picture I took!") that may be willful trademark infringement AND copyright infringement.

But if you simply put a watermark on your picture with your actual name, in general, that's just a watermark of your name. It has nothing to do with trademarks.

Clear as mud?

(P.S. this is not legal advice and is intended for background information only. If you're seriously entering the world of photography, talk to an intellectual property attorney.)
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Old Jul 21, 2010, 5:23 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by timfulford View Post
My wife has been taking some pics lately of friends for maternity and others. I was just wondering if she put her name with a copyright symbol on the photo would that be legal if she has not paid for anything to actually copyright her name? Also can you put just your name on the photo without getting in trouble? She will do it like a watermark because she posts some of them on facebook and doesn't want anybody being able to print them. She also wants to have her name on them so that people will also know who took the pic. It would be very samll in the printed photos. Please just let me know if thats legal or if we need to pay for a license to do that.
Copyright law varies from one country to another so you should
check your local copyright law for accurate information.

Most countries seem to have similar laws to ours (Ireland).
The copyright owner doesn't need to do anything. If the photographs
belong to your wife and were taken by her, then she is the copyright
owner. She enjoys the protection of copyright automatically.

All of this is fine until there is a dispute over ownership and
she has to decide whether she should sue the copyright thief.
Many cases of copyright theft involve parties that are in a
different country to the copyright owner. In this case, you
would have to sue in a foreign country, or pay a collection
or enforcement agency to pursue your claim.

If the copyright thief is local, you might need to be able to
prove the photo is yours before you can take legal action.
Traditionally, the way to prove ownership was to post a sealed
copy to yourself by registered post. As long as the envelope
remains sealed, you can establish the date and the fact that
you have the original work. I don't think this approach would be
as useful for a digital photograph.

You could shoot the original photographs at high resolution,
preferably in raw mode. Use lower resolution JPEGs for
the web page. In the event of a dispute, you could show that
you were the only person who has the high resolution original.
JPEG EXIF tags and any information stored in raw files are
of limited value because they are easily changed or removed.

Visible watermarks are another option. Unobtrusive marks at
the edge of the photo are easily cropped or cloned out.
Unfortunately, the most effective watermarks are big ugly
ones that completely spoil the photo. A copyright notice is
probably worthwhile. At least it will prevent the thief from using
the usual excuse: "I didn't know I wasn't allowed to steal it!".

Last edited by corkpix; Jul 21, 2010 at 5:25 PM.
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Old Jul 21, 2010, 5:47 PM   #13
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perdendosi - I think you misunderstood what I was saying. What I was saying is - you can put letters, numbers, names whatever in an image you post to facebook but you cannot use say the nike swoosh or another trademarked image/name/etc on your images. So, you could not for example make your watermark a nike swoosh.
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Old Jul 21, 2010, 7:06 PM   #14
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Ok thank you so much. You cleared it up for me.
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