View Poll Results: How do you feel about watermarks on images

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  • I hate them - hate them - hate them - they're distracting & totally ruin the image!

    19 73.08%
  • They don't bother me particularly

    5 19.23%
  • I like them!

    2 7.69%
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Thread: Question about Watermarks

  1. #1
    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Question about Watermarks

    Hello. I have a question that is not meant to offend anyone, but rather to answer a trouble that I have and cannot understand.

    Why do people watermark their photos? I mean the little signature at the bottom (or top) that says "© Andrew76 Photography 2012". Here's why I ask: It does absolutely NOTHING to actually 'copyright' your image, and yet in most cases, it does EVERYTHING to detract from the image, distract the viewer (who in most cases is trying to give, or has been asked to give feedback on the image), and generally ruins what could be a real winning photograph.

    I know this issue has been addressed in countless threads/posts on this forum, usually resulting in comments that tend to agree with what I've stated above. So why does it continue? Do people think that by having it small, and inconspicuous, that it's not noticed? Well, in that case, it would easily be cropped out, or removed via a pp tool like Photoshop, or even Light Room if someone wanted to maliciously 'borrow' that photo - in fact, I bore witness to this just this week when one member removed a watermark on another member's photo just to prove a point, with no malicious intent, of course.

    Now, if you're offering people a DVD of edited images, and you want them to return to you for prints, I can understand the huge, obnoxious, image ruining watermark across the centre of the photo. Likewise if you're in the business of selling stock photos online, of course you wouldn't want people to just help themselves to your images. But this is different than what most people are doing.

    I have a friend (a very good friend) who watermarks EVERY SINGLE ONE of his photos, and it makes me crazy! He recently posted some nice shots of my family swimming in a pool on Face Book. The images are fantastic. Unfortunately, all anyone can see is ©©©© spewed across the bottom of every single one. Crazy.

    I'm sorry to rant, but when I can't understand something, it's in my nature to try and find an answer. I'm hoping that someone here will be able to help me.

  2. #2
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Artists have traditionally signed their works and I see nothing wrong with doing so, provided it is done tastefully and discretely.

    I think some people see it as an anti-theft device and try to make things look so ugly that no one will steal or use their work. In many ways, I think this is a self-fullfilling prophecy.

  3. #3

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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Watermarks are like condoms. It gives some a sense of security but you can still get screwed.

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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew1 View Post
    Watermarks are like condoms. It gives some a sense of security but you can still get screwed.
    LOL nice one.

  5. #5

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    Re: Question about watermarks

    I am with Manfred on that. Artists have always signed their work. Sure enought, the "Mona Lisa" does not have a great big signature acros her face.
    But times they are a changing like some one said. We created the tools to make things easy. Easy for the artist ,and, easy for the "copy/pasting" leasy individual.
    Here is an example: An amateur photographer asked the neighbor's dauther to pose for him, simple portrait. He puts it on his web site. Someone copy the picture and uses it for advertisement for a porno site. The father of the girl sees it and beat the crap out of the photographer who is sued for supplying pictures to an illegal trade business, with pictures of an underage girl without parental consent and legal documents.
    And the photographer is held responsable!!!

    Wow, what one can do with a bit of knowledge.

    Is it not also the responsability of the creators of theses great programs to find a way to protect the author or the pictures? I ask for your point of view on this.

  6. #6
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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew76 View Post
    Why do people watermark their photos? I mean the little signature at the bottom (or top) that says "© Andrew76 Photography 2012". Here's why I ask: It does absolutely NOTHING to actually 'copyright' your image, and yet in most cases, it does EVERYTHING to detract from the image, distract the viewer (who in most cases is trying to give, or has been asked to give feedback on the image), and generally ruins what could be a real winning photograph. I know this issue has been addressed in countless threads/posts on this forum, usually resulting in comments that tend to agree with what I've stated above. So why does it continue?
    Totally agree.

    Philip

  7. #7
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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Post #1 is about watermarks. Post #5 raises different issues but, considering the quoted example in relation to Post #1, if a photo really suits the requirements of someone who copies it, it is doubtful that a watermark signature would deter him/her.

    Philip

  8. #8
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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Some interesting points. To be honest, I never actually thought about it as 'just an artist signing their work. That, I can accept, although I suppose I don't have to agree that it 'adds anything to the image'. Aren't we taught from day one that if something in the photograph doesn't add to it, it takes away from it?

    I don't want this to turn into a discussion on the law, and who should and shouldn't be responsible for protecting online images, that can be for a different thread! I do agree with Louise, that someone should be held accountable, and that the law should be easier for a simple person like me to understand, but the truth is, there isn't, and it's not.

    The fact of the matter is that inserting minimal, inconspicuous watermarks in the bottom of images is an exercise in futility if the intent is to protect the image. So that can't be one of the reasons people do it.

  9. #9
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew76 View Post
    Some interesting points. To be honest, I never actually thought about it as 'just an artist signing their work. That, I can accept, although I suppose I don't have to agree that it 'adds anything to the image'. Aren't we taught from day one that if something in the photograph doesn't add to it, it takes away from it?

    I don't want this to turn into a discussion on the law, and who should and shouldn't be responsible for protecting online images, that can be for a different thread! I do agree with Louise, that someone should be held accountable, and that the law should be easier for a simple person like me to understand, but the truth is, there isn't, and it's not.

    The fact of the matter is that inserting minimal, inconspicuous watermarks in the bottom of images is an exercise in futility if the intent is to protect the image. So that can't be one of the reasons people do it.
    I was taught that if you are proud of your work, you should sign it. I also tend to put a white frame around most of my images. That perhaps stems from the wet darkroom days where they were a given on most easels and I still think the look is often better than the borderless print.

    Do these things add to the image; I think yes as you are demonstrating that the work is not just a snapshot.

  10. #10
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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Manfred, that is a great point, and that, I can accept. Can I offer a question to you then? If that is the case, and I do admit, I would like to sign some of my prints as well, would it not be better to just sign it with a simple name, or signature, or initials? I think part of my problem stems from the obnoxious "©" on it. Inserting that symbol seems to create the intent of trying to protect the image. As Louise states, there is no watermark on the Mona Lisa, but I can almost assure you, that if there were, da Vinci wouldn't have signed it "© Leo dV 1515©".

    But I'm still ranting. Maybe this is just me. I will agree with you, and thank you for opening my eyes to the fact that we should be proud of what we make, and signing them is one way of showing it.

    PS - I also agree with you "self fulfilling prophecy" that you mention above!! I think you hit exactly what I mean there!

    Great discussion everyone!

  11. #11
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew76 View Post
    Manfred, that is a great point, and that, I can accept. Can I offer a question to you then? If that is the case, and I do admit, I would like to sign some of my prints as well, would it not be better to just sign it with a simple name, or signature, or initials? I think part of my problem stems from the obnoxious "©" on it. Inserting that symbol seems to create the intent of trying to protect the image. As Louise states, there is no watermark on the Mona Lisa, but I can almost assure you, that if there were, da Vinci wouldn't have signed it "© Leo dV 1515©".

    But I'm still ranting. Maybe this is just me. I will agree with you, and thank you for opening my eyes to the fact that we should be proud of what we make, and signing them is one way of showing it.

    PS - I also agree with you "self fulfilling prophecy" that you mention above!! I think you hit exactly what I mean there!

    Great discussion everyone!
    Often the date is also included in the signature. I've had a quick look at some of the painting and prints around the house, most, but certainly not all of them are signed and dated. I'm not sure if da Vinci or the other classical artists would have included the © symbol as they predate the concept by several centuries. I'm fairly sure Dürer would have done so, as he was very much into selling multiple prints of his work...

    I do remember reading that there was some case law that effectively let an infringer "get away with it" by claiming that he or she did not know that the work was copyrighted. The legal infringement still occurred, but the penalty for doing so was neglegible, had the copyright information been displayed, that argument would not have stood up. What is not clear is how "obvious" the warning has to be. I certainly know that some consumer goods companies have designed packaging in such a way that their product is difficult to open without seeing the product warning label.

  12. #12

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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Is the only work-around to do exactly as da Vinci did and only make one? No online posting, no huge number of prints at a lower cost, just hang it or sell it and be satisfied at least one other person likes your photo. Or like many other painters, only produce portraits on commission to someone then walk away? I don't think it's a valid comparison to liken single works of one of the ancient masters to the results of those posting millions of photos a day. By the way, if he were alive today you can bet that yes, Leo would have included date and copyright marks to prints of the original.

    I see a big difference between the watermarks spattered diagonally across a sample and the signature of the producer. Manfred is quite right in taking credit where it is due. Even postcards recognize the photographer in many cases. I too have a few pictures hanging around the house. Some have no signature, most do, a couple even have brass title plaques and numbers and on those, the signature does include the copyright symbol. None however detract from the picture itself. In many cases that same signature actually increases the value of the picture. Take a look at some of the stuff from Emile Carr. I have never been able to understand why some people appreciate her work. Without her signature it looks like an elementary kid did the painting and many wouldn't give it a second glance.

    Here's something to consider if you are posting dozens of photos without any trail back to you. What if you go out tomorrow and shoot the photo of your life. Something so newsworthy or stunning that you knew you had hit the jackpot and hundreds of people would scramble for a copy. Would you be signing those art gallery prints? Would you want your name beside that journalistic masterpiece on the front page of every newspaper? You bet you would.

    Are we just posting so many photos we hold no personal value in them anymore? Are we spending too much time on something of no consequence?

  13. #13
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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Andrew, I'm starting to agree with both you, and Manfred. I don't see any issue with people taking credit where it's due, in fact, may even try to digitally create my own signature for digital work (rest assured though, it won't contain a ©).

    The comments are all leading in a single direction though, should this lead me to believe that people are just proud of what they've produced, and not trying to actually claim legal title over their shots? If that's the case, then my question has been answered, and I can live with that.

    I'm not convinced that's the motivation though. I'm just having such a difficult time understanding all of this, when every day you can log onto CiC and find at least one post, where someone has asked for critique, and at least one member has said something to the effect "aside from the intrusive watermark distracting my view......".
    Last edited by Andrew76; 24th April 2012 at 08:28 PM. Reason: Cant spel gud.

  14. #14
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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew76 View Post
    Why do people watermark their photos? I mean the little signature at the bottom (or top) that says "© Andrew76 Photography 2012". . . .when I can't understand something, it's in my nature to try and find an answer. I'm hoping that someone here will be able to help me.
    I don’t know why others do it, but I do it when the image has been previously used (published) or sold or is the end result of a specific job and is subsequently displayed somewhere else; on a forum like here, as an example.

    I don’t generally put the “© + DATE + NAME” in any image when I post an image on a forum, but usually underneath it, however, I have some images on file which have the copyright already in the frame; this is usually because the whole frame was printed that way for display or publication - such as this example:

    Question about Watermarks

    The DATE in the text is a reference and states the year the image was captured.

    The NAME in the text will differentiate the Copyright Ownership between mine or my company’s.

    Having the copyright details within images which are to be displayed or published is a simpler way of credit and reference of the Photographer – this is quite common.

    My inclusion of the “©” symbol, is (obviously) dependent upon who has copyright ownership: and the presence of it (or not) is also a reference: for example an indication to Judges regarding works submitted in a competition.

    I know of other Photographers who also use this protocol and as a Judge I understand and appreciate it.

    I do not consider a small “© + DATE + NAME” in the bottom left or right corner of an image “a Watermark”.

    I refer to a Watermark as some indent, usually large and across the centre of the image.

    I rarely watermark any images, usually only “Proofs” and when using those proofs for viewing by General Clients – i.e. not Industry Professionals, who know what proofs are and the uses thereof.

    I watermark those with a big, usually black word "PROOF" across the centre.

    If I signature my work, then that is different again: I signature, The Print.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 24th April 2012 at 09:15 PM.

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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Quote Originally Posted by wlou View Post
    I am with Manfred on that. Artists have always signed their work. Sure enought, the "Mona Lisa" does not have a great big signature acros her face.
    But times they are a changing like some one said. We created the tools to make things easy. Easy for the artist ,and, easy for the "copy/pasting" leasy individual.
    Here is an example: An amateur photographer asked the neighbor's dauther to pose for him, simple portrait. He puts it on his web site. Someone copy the picture and uses it for advertisement for a porno site. The father of the girl sees it and beat the crap out of the photographer who is sued for supplying pictures to an illegal trade business, with pictures of an underage girl without parental consent and legal documents.
    And the photographer is held responsable!!!

    Wow, what one can do with a bit of knowledge.

    Is it not also the responsability of the creators of theses great programs to find a way to protect the author or the pictures? I ask for your point of view on this.
    Hi Louise,

    Interesting scenario but, (a) legally, putting a watermark on an image doesn't change a thing in the laws of all countries that I'm aware of, and (b) in most cases it's a trivial thing to remove it if one can be bothered.

    So it doesn't provide one ounce of legal protection - all it does is associate the name of the creator with the image (invariably ruining it in the process, in my opinion). I find it so distracting that in some cases - where I've previously mentioned it - I've given up offering critiques to the offenders.

    "Is it not the responsability of the creators of theses great programs to find a way to protect the author or the pictures?" you ask? In my opinion, no, it's not.

  16. #16

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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew76 View Post
    Why do people watermark their photos? I mean the little signature at the bottom (or top) that says "© Andrew76 Photography 2012". Here's why I ask: It does absolutely NOTHING to actually 'copyright' your image, and yet in most cases, it does EVERYTHING to detract from the image, distract the viewer (who in most cases is trying to give, or has been asked to give feedback on the image), and generally ruins what could be a real winning photograph.
    I agree entirely, and hereby award you with a Colin J. Southern "This man gets it" award (I haven't awarded one of those for a while now!).

    I hate it, hate it, hate it. It's a bit like a scar on the face of a beautiful lady or scratch down the side of a beautiful car; regardless of how beautiful the woman or the car, the first thing I ALWAYS see is the scar/scratch.

  17. #17

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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Hello Colin, my comment is not so much about the copywright sign itself and more about identifying pictures. It could be an invisible mark. The computor pros being so talented these days, dont you think something like that could work?

  18. #18

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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Quote Originally Posted by wlou View Post
    Hello Colin, my comment is not so much about the copywright sign itself and more about identifying pictures. It could be an invisible mark. The computor pros being so talented these days, dont you think something like that could work?
    Hi Louise,

    They already have it. It basically works on the principle of a change in levels so subtle and small that the human eye can see it, but a computer can. Not sure what it accomplishes though. You can put full copyright - useage rights - contact info into the metadata.

    Here's an example where the background is at 0 and some text is at level 1 (of 255). Increase the exposure about 4 stops or chuck on a levels layer and bring the highlights clipping control all the way down to read the "secret message) (2 brownie points to the fist person who can reveal the secret message!)

    Question about Watermarks

  19. #19
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    Re: Question about watermarks

    Andrew76, please don't get distracted from the important point you make in Post #1, and which is repeated for emphasis in #6 and #16. Whether you call it a watermark, a signature, or a copyright sign, anyone who has been following the CiC commentary forums, even for a short period of time, knows exactly the sort of scar (to use Colin's apt simile) to which you refer. Whatever the reason or excuse for its inclusion on the photo, you describe the true effect perfectly - it ruins the image.

    Philip

    (P.S. In your last edit reason, a better use of English would be, "Cant spel wel". )

  20. #20

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    Re: Question about watermarks

    I just added a poll to this excellent thread (hope you don't mind Andrew!) - be interesting to see what folks think in general.

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