Watermarks Are Valid Copyright Information: Says the Courts

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