Digital copyright: How to protect your image(s) — The law in the U.S. is clear:  the moment someone presses the shutter button, his or her work has a copyright.

Only it’s not so black and white.  There are detailed exceptions to the rule, no copyright cops are investigating violations and taking people down.

Since 2003-2010 from Myspace to the explosively popular Instagram millions of Americans have become unintentional content providers.  Take the information you like. However it is nothing but your fault if an image you took is misused and your copyright violated.  You must be aware because the buyers and sellers know the game and you probably don’t.

Did you know?

There is no artistic merit in a phonebook-and maybe your photo as well.

Editorial Photographers of APA member, Michael Grecco published a copyright primer in 2000 which explains what defines an image as copyrightable.

This is your problem

Carolyn E. Wright a photography lawyer whose site is the first stop for lensers ready to get serious about their intellectual property, told, “It’s not Getty’s, Google’s or Bing’s responsibility to protect photographs. Instead, photographers must do everything possible to protect their photographs.  The first step is for photographers to learn as much as they can about the issues related to copyright. “

Carolyn E Wright

Image credits: Viki Reed

Start by reading Wright’s article about posting your images online.

How do I find my photos?

Start your engines, literally.  Scour the Internet for your images by using one of these reverse-search engine tools:

1.            Tiny-Eye (plugin  )

2.            Byo-Image Search ( )

3.            Make Magic ( )

4.            Rev IMG (  )

5.            Google Search By Image Feature ( )

6.            Picwiser (  )

7.            Sauce NAO ( / )

Once you discover a violation it’s your decision whether to take action or not.  If you don’t know what to do, Wright guides you with this primer.

Knowing what to do is a start but the nuts and bolts of how is again broken down in detail by’s resident genius. Read this article for a DCMA take-down how-to.

Copyright CertificateAlways register

Unless your work is registered with the US Copyright Office, thieves have better odds than the Borgata Casino because getting your rights back will cost more if the violator properly licensed your image.

Who do you call?

Making the right choice here critical.  Wright recommends, “The best way to find a lawyer is to get references. Talk with other photographers and business colleagues to solicit their recommendations. You may be able to review an attorney’s credentials in Martin¬dale Hubble, a national listing of law firms and individual lawyers.

“For photographers, this can range from copyright and trademark to employment and contract law. A recommended attorney may refer you to another lawyer specialized in a different area.

“Make sure that the agreement is in writing and that the agreement specifies what work is to be performed.”

If you’re fortunate enough to afford a lawyer, the responsibility for protecting your assets still remains with you. Here are the ten rules of us copyright infringement, as described by photographer, Jeremy Nicholl who experienced increased theft of his work.

It’s your image at stake and it’s for you to take action.  Protect your digital assets as you would anything you own. I hope this article is the first step to securing copyright for your images.

Viki Reed

Viki Reed

Contributor at Tech Page One
Viki Reed is a writer and photographer with experience in New York , Los Angeles and now her home state of New Jersey. Visit her online and, or on Facebook at viki reed photography.
Viki Reed
Viki Reed
Tags: Tech Culture,Technology