The use of our hard earned images on Social Media.

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By Adrian Langdon, UK

common dolphins with watermarkMany of us share our images with friends and groups of like-minded people on sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Flickr and it is good to get those pictures off the hard drives and into the world for their appreciation. This is often all there is to it and we get a few “likes” and some praise and everybody goes to bed happy. Other times things can go wrong and we find our photographs turning up in places that we never expected and often without our watermarks and even sometimes credited to others. This happened to me recently when a Facebook thread popped up advertising a Holiday company here in my native Cornwall but featuring one of my dolphin photos in its header. My photo had alongside of it a tagline “Feel free to download this photo by Adrian Langdon”. It had already attracted a couple of thousand downloads so I wrote in the comments section that they had ripped off my photo and it was copyrighted and how did they think they can get away with stealing others work! I then received a fair bit of abuse from people all over the world that had been following the website saying I was over-reacting etc. I did some Googling and finally tracked down their office and wrote them a formal e mail asking them to remove it and asked how they got it in the first place. Surprisingly they did reply and took the photo down from their site and told me that they had taken it from Flickr as they did virtually all their advertising photos saying that they considered them free to use if they were downloadable. I must admit that I didn’t really understand how the copyright preferences on Flickr worked and to this day I’m not sure what mine were set to as I immediately removed all of my images from their site. Taking a look at the site again I still find it difficult to ascertain how to get the most protection of my images, they don’t make it easy! I now try to watermark almost all of my images on social media unless they are so poor I needn’t worry about them. If people want an image enough they will still steal it and Photoshop out the watermark so it is worth considering if you wish to share that “shot of a lifetime”, although by keeping it hidden on your PC nobody else sees it at all…. and was that your original intention?