Since people started sharing images on the internet, there has been a big controversy on stolen images. There are several ways that people use to try to avoid this phenomenon, including low-resolution images, watermarks, etc… But anyway you try, if your image is out there, it’s going to get stolen one way or another…
There is only one way for your images not to get stolen over the internet: don’t share them on the internet!
The act of sharing
I share so people can see my images. Otherwise I would keep them on my computer… To me, having someone use my image on his/her website is more of a compliment because they liked my image. I do share so people can re-share: the more people see my images, the better. I don’t see a reason why my images would need to stay on my website, because then less people would be able to see them. Now, of course, I don’t want people sharing the image and saying it’s theirs. This is why the only thing I actually care about is attribution and sharing without modification. I’m all for showing beautiful images, but I don’t want people re-using my images for something else (composites, ads, etc…) without my authorization.
Why Creative Commons?
Going with “All rights reserved” wasn’t going to work for me. I don’t see myself paying for a desktop wallpaper… so I don’t expect people to pay me either. However, I expect people to pay me if they are using my images commercially: if they are earning money thanks to my images, I should get some of that money. Hence, the choice of a Attribution / Non Commercial / No Derivatives license from Creative Commons. It’s works for everything I said above. Another good thing is that the 3 conditions can be waived by the owner, which means that you can sell your images or allow derivatives to specific people.
About Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization based in California that released several copyright licenses free of charge. Their goal is to help expand the range of creative works available to other to share and to build upon. You can find more information on Creative Commons licenses, on their website.
Sharing under Creative Commons
Then how do you share your images with Creative Commons license? First of all, if you have a website, simply put the a note in the footer of each page or under each image saying your images are licensed under a Creative Commons license. You can also get the standard text with a Creative Commons image from this page:
On social media websites, I encourage you to mention the license on your profile (as I do on Google+) or to add a note in each of your posts. Also, you should include the copyright notice in the metadata of your images. For example, if you use Lightroom, you can find the metadata section on the right of the Library module. Select “EXIF and IPTC” at the top of the section and if you scroll down, you’ll find the copyright fields that you can fill as I do below:
What about you?
I’m not saying that Creative Commons is for everyone, and a lot of people won’t feel comfortable using it. It is a great tool for artworks online and I can only hope it will be used more in the future. However, if you don’t want to use it, you can always post a “All rights reserved” notice with your images (and in the metadata). Just keep in mind that nothing can prevent people from stealing your images…