Thursday, December 22, 2011

Copyright and the Internet

"Grand Canyon Blue" 24x12, oil

The other day, I was speaking at a seminar about how the Internet and social media can help artists promote themselves.  One artist said, "I've heard that Facebook owns the images once you post them."   Another said, "But when you post them, don't you still own the copyright?"

Facebook doesn't own your images.  According to the most current terms of agreement,

"You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:

For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it."

(Speaking of Facebook, I'd appreciate it if you'd go over and "like" my Facebookpage.)

Still, for any social media site or hosting service you use, you should read the terms of agreement before posting your images.  It may vary from service to service.

Unless you've expressly given it away, you do own the copyright to your images.  Even when you sell a painting, you retain the right to reproduce the image in formats like giclée prints and notecards - again, unless you've signed an agreement giving this right to someone else.

Of course, owning the copyright doesn't mean that an admirer won't download your image and use it for desktop wallpaper.  Or that a less sensitive admirer won't create a series of notecards with it.  Or worse yet, that the Chinese fine art industry won't sell "originals," made by slave-wage workers, to fancy hotel for decorating their rooms.

To make your images less attractive to theft, consider keeping your images scaled down to 1000 pixels on the longest side with a resolution of 72 dpi.  (You don't need more than 72 dpi for most display screens these days.)  If someone wants to see a larger version, you can always e-mail one or put it on a secure hosting service, such as Picasa.  I recommend against adding a watermark; they're distracting.  If it's important to you to mark your images in some way, consider adding an invisible watermark with a tool like Digimarc.  Digimarc also allows you to search the Web for illegal copies of your images.

Speaking of images, above is a large (24x12) oil painting I've been working on.  It's a thunderstorm in the Grand Canyon.  I resized it as 72 dpi with 1000 pixels on the longest side.  Below are two detail shots, same specifications.


daniela.. said...

I hope this is the finished painting - I am sending this image to friends who live in the Blue Mountains, NSW, I think it will knock their socks off.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Why, thank you! It is the final version. Onward to the next one!

Carolyn said...

Interesting about the Facebook question. Technology is going so fast, even the laws protecting people from various violations can't keep up. Thank you for the information. BTW, that is one gorgeous painting!

alotter said...

Fantastic painting!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Any company where you upload images requires you to give them an irrevocable licence to display your work. It's the norm - they couldn't display it otherwise.

What some of them don't mention and/or make too clear (stand up Flickr) is that they will pass this image on to other people so that they can also display it without any accreditation.

I never put anything up bigger than 500 pixels longest size. That gives people enough to know whether they want to see more and it has the benefit of
1) avoiding creating an image which can be used elsewhere even if it's 72dpi
2) makes my site load faster than if I used bigger images - because the file size is so much smaller

Most people never click on an image so why load something bigger than they are going to look at? It's better to maximise the display size within a blog post.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Good points, Katherine! Thanks for the extra input.