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Watermarks Are Valid Copyright Information: Says the Courts

November 17, 2010 Copyright 3 Comments

Written by: Charlie Borland

Apparently a watermark on your photographs counts as “copyright management information” that is protected under the Digital Milenium Copyright Act. As you know it is easy to crop out or cover over a watermark and that is what happened in the case of McClatchey vs. Associated Press.

Years ago, The Associated Press allegedly cropped a ‘Ms. McClatchey’ photograph and then distributed it without her permission and she sued. The AP alleges that because the watermark is not digital, that cannot be considered as the “copyright management information” but the courts ruled otherwise.

As Carolyn Wright, publisher of Photo Attorney writes in this post: “Section 1202 of the U.S. Copyright Act makes it illegal for someone to remove the watermark from your photo so that it can disguise the infringement when used. The fines start at $2500 and go to $25,000 in addition to attorneys’ fees and any damages for the infringement.”

So it appears that it is not only good to register your images copyright but to go further and watermark them where they may be posted online or even in some submissions.

For a full read of Carolyn’s post check out the original post here and the update here.

If you have any experience with a watermark or copyright issue please leave a comment.

Carolyn’s book on photographers legal issues: photography, copyright, legal, issues

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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Jeff Colburn says:

    I haven’t had a copyright infringement with any of my photos, but I did with one of my ebooks. I lost over $1,000,000 due to illegal downloads, and I’m dealing with this same situation again today. You can read the whole story on my blog at http://www.thecreativescorner.com/2010/03/23/your-copyright-is-useless/

  2. admin says:

    Well that no doubt sucks Jeff. I hope you have had some recourse. That’s a lot of money to lose. Did they purchase your book and then post it on their sites for free?

  3. Jeff Colburn says:

    Yah, it sucks. The only recourse I’ve had is to know how people like my book. A few years ago I changed the title of the book, and it’s the old title that keeps showing up, so it must be someone who bought it at least 4 years ago. The book keeps popping up in these download sites, and I’m dealing with Torrentz right now, as they have the book up for the second time this year. It shows over 29,000 more illegal downloads.

    Not much I can do without hiring a lawyer, spending a ton of money, and not being paid when I win (many people who lose a lawsuit never pay the damages the court has awarded).

    I just keep an eye out through Google Alerts, and get the offending sites to remove the book.

    Have Fun,

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