When you are studying to be a visual artist or a designer no one really takes you aside and tells you about the legal part of the business. The more exciting part of visual art and design is always the designing and legal talk can bore people to tears. However, despite how boring it might be, the legal side of things is very important. And one of the most important legal issues faces Visual Artists and Designers is copyright infringement and property theft. I can tell you how many people use image search engines such as Google Images and just save and then repost your hard work somewhere else. I even had this happen to me a few times, and the whole experience is disheartening and frustrating in turns.
However, the good news is with some prevention, a lot of those experiences can be prevented or easily remedied.
Watermarks are visual signatures that you can draw or paste on top of your artwork. It’s an old age practice that is still one of the most effective ways to protect your art. I tend to watermark my own images by making a transparent png signature with my name and my website and then manually posting that image on every new artwork.
However, there is an easy way to batch watermark your artwork or designs by making an easy photoshop action. I I also recommend using the Batch Watermarker software. It’s super easy and the UI is very intuitive.
Metadata and Exchangeable image file format is a tell exactly you what format your image, video, or audio file and also allows you to add information such as date, type of camera or software that was used to create the file, html and the person who created the file. This often works like an invisible digital watermark, and especially in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Bridge, you can mark the file as copyrighted and that information will show up in search engine results which will greatly decrease property theft.
Also, that information will show up in Alternate Text in HTML any website. So everyone will automatically know who your property belongs to. The easiest way to edit your file’s metadata is by editing in your window. In PC you can do this by right clicking and selecting properties then select the details tab then press Apply. In Mac, you double-click the photo to view it, then you click the I button or Command-I and then you can enter your information there. You can find more information about this here.
Another way to edit the metadata is by using PhotoMe software, which you find here.
Another way to copyright your image is by simply adding your name and your website to your Alternative Text or Alt Text in the HTML. It’s pretty easy and simple. If you want to know more about Alternative Text and why you should use it, you can do so here.
Now, one of these days you might have to actually go to court and sue for copyright infringement. For U.S. law, your art is automatically protected under the copyright law. However, there is possible that you might have to go to court and prove that you are indeed the original creator. One of the tools you can use is copyrighted.com. Every time you create a new art piece you can register it on the website and if you are sued you will list of who created it when it was created, and any other information to prove your side of the case.
This, of course, is not as good as your going through the legal process of copyrighting your art, but it’s still a free and easy alternative.
Right Click Protection
Depending on your blogging platform or portfolio platform you can easily add right-click protections to your site, which will disable people from right clicking and save your art to their hard drive. There are ways around it, especially if you crosspost to places such as DeviantArt or on social media because those places usually don’t offer such protections. I use a self-hosted WordPress site for my portfolio, so it’s easy to add plugins that will protect your art from being saved.
My Favorites plugins are Prevent Content Theft, WP Content Copy Protection & No Right Click, and CopyRightPro.