You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t have a photograph, illustration, or graphic that you would like to place on the web but are concerned with protecting your rights as the designer.
Copyright is defined by Plagiarism Today as your rights to ownership over the things you create, whether it be a painting, photograph, poem, novel, or digital graphic or illustration. You are within your rights to reproduce the work, prepare modifications of the work, distribute copies, and display the work publicly.
We’re not going to dive too far into the need to know items of copyrights because, after all, this is a tutorial blog about copyrighting your graphics, not the law. But Owen Oliver, from Onextrapixel.com, has taken the time to write a very informative article titled ’10 Copyright Laws Every Graphic Designer Should Be Aware Of‘ in case you would like to learn more.
There are several ways to make it clear to others that your work is copyrighted. Some of the methods available for a small fee are:
But we are going to focus on two, adding a watermark and adding File Info in Photoshop.
A watermark is visible on the design and includes, at the very least, the copyright symbol and your name or company name.
You can produce the copyright symbol by holding down the Alt key and pressing 0169 (Alt+0169) © from your keyboard. Alternatively, you can navigate to your custom shape tool in Photoshop and select the copyright symbol from the Shape drop down.
There are several ways to style and place the watermark that are left to your personal preference. I’ve provided a few examples of traditional watermarks below.
- The watermark can expand across the bulk of the image, covering as much as possible.
- Your watermark can be placed at the point of maximum detail on your artwork with the opacity lowered to make it harder for others to remove the watermark.
- The watermark can be styled in various ways, adding a bevel and emboss or drop shadow are common effects added to watermarks.
- You can also add the watermark to one of the four corners of the graphic and reduce the opacity to 25-30%.
Watermarking is a free and easy way to claim what is yours but if the watermark is too small or faint, it could easily be cropped or edited out. And if the watermark is too large or dark, it will dominate your photo and compromise it’s appearance.
Photoshop’s File Info command makes it easy to embed copyright information directly to a graphic by embedding the information you provide in the File Info panel.
Photoshop’s File Info option can be found by navigating to File>File Info (near the bottom of the drop down) or pressing Alt+Shift+Ctrl+I while your image is opened in Photoshop.
The File Info panel allows you to enter metadata for the following categories:
- Camera Data
- IPTC Extension
- GPS Data
- Audio Data
- Video Data
- Raw Data
The information you enter in these panels travels with your image where ever it may journey on the web.
For the purpose of copyright details, we will only need to focus on the Basic category.
The Basic panel contains fields for entering all of our important information, like our name, a description of the image, keywords to help people find the image in a search, copyright details, and so on. The very first field at the top of the list, Document Title, isn’t terribly important but you may want to enter the file name of your image.
Below the Document Title field is the much more important Author field. This is where you enter your name as the author of the image. Below that is the Author Title field. I enter “Photographer” if I was the person who actually took the photo, or “Graphic Designer” if I was the person who created the graphic, but you can enter a different job title or just leave it blank if you prefer. It is more important that your name is in the Author field.
Next, enter a description of the image in the Description field. Try to be as detailed as possible since the description can make it easier for people to find your image.
Next is the Keywords field. This one is also very important because giving the image meaningful keywords will make it much easier for people to find it when searching for photos that contain one or more of those subjects. Enter either a semicolon or a comma after each keyword to separate them from each other. A keyword can actually be made up of two or more words (like “weathered barn” or “high dynamic range”).
The Copyright Status option is next. By default, it’s set to Unknown. Click on the word Unknown, or on the small arrow to the right of the word, and choose Copyrighted from the list that appears. Keep in mind that simply claiming that your image is copyrighted isn’t the same as actually applying for a legal copyright, but it’s usually enough to keep most honest people from using the image without your permission.
Once you’ve selected Copyrighted, enter your copyright information into the Copyright Notice field. You’ll usually want to include the copyright symbol followed by your name or company’s name.
Last but certainly not least is the Copyright Info URL field. Enter the URL of the website you want people to visit to find out more information about you and your work.
To permanently embed the new information with the image file, we need to save the image, which we can do by going up to the File menu and choosing Save or pressing Ctrl+S. Once it’s been saved, you can close out of it. The next time you re-open the image in Photoshop and open the File Info dialog box (File > File Info), you’ll see all of your contact and copyright information displayed in the fields.
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, images with watermarks can still be stolen and re-purposed without your permission. The upside to this of course is that your watermark will be seen wherever it may end up. But if that still makes you uneasy, we’ve called in for back up. Right Click Protect, straight from the Wix App Market helps to protect your website images (not just for photographs!) from any right-click downloading. You can add a notice that appears when users right click anywhere on your site. It doesn’t get any more secure than that!