Watermarking has been the artists’ bane since the early days of the computer revolution. We all want to protect our images from unauthorized use, but at the same time, we don’t want to do anything to detract from the visual appearance, since that is the whole point of posting the work in the first place. So, we have a couple of choices; 1) we can splash a giant watermark on top of our work, which will certainly keep anyone from using it, but is just too intrusive for many artists to bear or 2) we can add a small watermark in the corner, like in the image above, which identifies the work but doesn’t do much to protect it. Cropping out the watermark is easy and hardly a deterrence should anyone wish to use the image for their personal gain.
But there are still advantages to adding the watermark, courtesy of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Here are three of them:
#1: The DMCA says that if someone crops out your watermark, that action may trigger a series of violations in addition to copyright infringement. The violations include Anti–Circumvention, Anti-Trafficking, and Alteration of Copyright Management Information for which the statutory damages can be up to $25,000 per violation. Sounds pretty good, right?
#2: Temporary and permanent injunctions may be granted to prevent or restrain violators from using your image. That is usually the immediate concern. So if the violator removes the watermark, getting an injunction becomes a bit easier.
#3: The violator may also be subject to criminal penalties. Willful violators of the anti-circumvention rules may be fined up to $500,000 and imprisoned for up to five years for a first offense. Subsequent offenses may be punished by fines up to $1,000,000 and imprisonment for up to ten years. This may sound a little harsh, but it will get the attention of the violator. Going forward with this action is your choice.
So, now you have three good reasons to use a watermark. While it may not be something you want to adorn an image of your work, there is a clear benefit to doing so. And, since the watermark does not need to be intrusive, you should make watermarking a standard practice before posting any of your work to the web.
If you have any questions on watermarking, or have comments that may be helpful to our readers, please post them below. And if enjoyed this article, I would appreciate if you share it with your friends. Thanks for reading!
- Congress to Consider DMCA Anti-Circumvention Reform…But Probably Not Very Hard (teleread.com)
- Encryption, crytography and circumvention fears (sweenylegal.wordpress.com)
- Arguments for Technical Protection Measures, TPMs (sweenylegal.wordpress.com)