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timfulford Jul 21, 2010 10:03 AM

copyright question
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.

donp Jul 21, 2010 10:10 AM

She can put her watermark on any photo she takes. But it won't stop someone from removing her mark and using the photo themselves. Watermarks can be easily cropped out of a photo unless you put them in the middle. You can't "copywrite" your signature without registering it.

JohnG Jul 21, 2010 10:20 AM

to clarify, I'm guessing it isn't the name she wants to copyright but the photo. Technically a photo is automatically copyrighted as soon as it is taken. In reality, if you ever want to seek legal recourse for copyright infringement of a photo you need to register it. In the end your wife has to decide what her purpose is though - people will have no issues taking screen prints of a facebook page and taking a photo - such people can and will easily clone out or crop out names / copyright symbols. There is no way to completely prevent the theft of images - that's the downside of wanting to share on the internet. Now, on my website where I sell images I have watermarks throughout the image - take a look at - a pain in the but to remove that type of watermark. Still, doesn't stop kids from screenprinting and using the image on their facebook pages. Can't stop it and not worth the cost to pursue litigation.

timfulford Jul 21, 2010 10:38 AM

thanks for the info. as far as her watermark or signature on the photo without the copyright symbols is legal then?

timfulford Jul 21, 2010 10:39 AM

it will be just her first and last name with no copyright symbol. forgot to put that in.

JohnG Jul 21, 2010 10:41 AM

She can put whatever she wants on a photo she took. If she wants to put her name on the photo there's nothing illegal about it.

timfulford Jul 21, 2010 10:57 AM

thank you so much for the info.

timfulford Jul 21, 2010 3:38 PM

Just a couple more quick questions. Say i want to put my name for example: fulford photography. Would that work even though i really dont have a business with that name? It just sounds good like that and my wife hasnt sold anything yet, but wanted to come up with a creative name other than just her first and last name. Also can you use the copyright symbol if your not registered with a copyrighted name? I know I see it sometimes but not sure if the person is actually copyright or not.

JohnG Jul 21, 2010 4:04 PM

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:

Ordo Jul 21, 2010 4:17 PM

If you live in USA, and want to be sure about your copyrights, check here:

And you can read this pdf:

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