Everyone knows there are 4 seasons (5 if you count construction….)in North America. But here in Canada, we actually have 6. We can’t forget the two seasons that make us truly Canadian- maple syrup season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While we’re still a ways away from the playoffs, I spent the afternoon a couple weekends ago walking through the maple groves near my home and capturing the sap buckets just starting to fill! I can almost taste the sugar already! And what a perfect opportunity to try out my new logo! Oh, by the way, I decided to get a logo :).
Since this is a blog I will pretend you’ve asked me why I have decided to logo my photographs! Well, I’m sure most of you have heard the story (or one just like it) of the American family who found out that their family Christmas photo which had been posted to a personal blog was being used in Europe as a bus ad for a local grocery store? Or maybe it was an Easter photo in a spa advert, or a grad photo in an online dating pop up ad? It happens more and more these days as we take to the web to share, display, and network our lives and families.
Despite the fact that the internet has now been around for a couple of decades, and social media has been around for probably a decade itself, people still have a hard time understanding that once something is shared out there, you can’t just reel it back in. Which is why it is so important to protect your intellectual property as well as you can.
According to The Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), a law and technology clinic based out of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, a photograph is protected under copyright law in Canada the moment it is taken by a digital camera. The owner of that copyright (generally speaking, as there are exceptions), is the author of the photo, so the person who took the photo or who owned the camera. That means that they are the only person legally able to copy, print, download/upload, or publicly display their photographs.
Now, as I pointed out earlier, there are situations that can’t be avoided if you are an active social media person like myself (meaning you’re not willing to go on Facebook/Instagram/ Twitter/Pinterest/Snapchat/#WhateverYourViceIs detox). Many of these sites, as well as photo sharing sites like Flickr or Photobucket, have fine print that essentially shares user rights with them of anything you post. For example, included in Facebook’s User Agreement is the following:
- 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 privacyand 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.
- When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).”
So while I understand that this is not something I can avoid unless I go the route of the dreaded detox (but then no one would ever see my photos so what’s the point?), I also know that you can make them less appealing. Not just for big websites like these but from the less than virtuous internet trolls who might want to claim them as their own or misuse them for something else.
Not only do I want to protect my intellectual property from others taking it for their own, using it in unapproved adverts, links, or memes, I also want to protect the subjects in my photos from being the victims of that. When it’s more of an artistic photo like the ones I took a couple weeks back of my Easter tree, no one but me (and maybe my pride) really suffers. But if it was one of the photos from my baby session, or a night out with friends, then it will be the individuals in the photos who (may potentially) suffer. And I won’t be able to protect them from that. Not a good way to get them to sit and pose for you again in the future!!
This is where logos and watermarks come in. You don’t have to have a photography business to logo your work – it is simply a way of identifying to whomever is looking at it through whatever medium they found it, that it belongs to you. It tells them there’s a copyright on it and it gives them an author to contact if they want more information about it. Some photographers and copyright owners will place large watermarks across the photo making it really useless to anyone who might want to right click, but this also really takes away from the photo and the likelihood of it being shared on a social media site (a large part of spreading your art/business etc).
For my purposes, this blog is about the photos so I want readers to be able to see them in detail and enjoy them so I’m choosing to go the logo route. One way suggested by another photography blogger I found through pinterest (I apologize I can’t remember which one – been pinning too much lately!), was to place the logo on something textured or multicoloured in the photo. This will make it more challenging for someone to remove or replace. Of course they could always crop the photo but there are some controls we have to let go of.
Here’s a brief step-by-step for inserting a logo into a photo using the free photo editing software GIMP. You may have to first download the script through the registry. I’m still very green at using photo editing software so please leave a comment if you have a simpler suggestion for this process! But no worries, once you do it a couple times you’ll see how simple it really is.
1. Open your logo in GIMP. If it already has a transparent background….awesome! If not, try this: Apply a “Layer Mask” to the image by right clicking on the layer up on the right hand column (the little image). Then select “white (full opacity) from the menu of options that will appear. Click ‘add’. Going up to the left hand tool bar, select the “select by colour” tool to choose the colour that you wish to make transparent. For example if your logo has a white background you then select the fill tool, choose black as your colour choice (will appear under the tool bar), and then click the layer mask on the right hand list of options, and fill in your selected area (the white space). Finally, merge your layers together by right clicking the layers on the right hand side of the page. And you have your finished logo! Or maybe you have a huge mess, like I said, Im just learning this myself so I apologize for my poor instructions!
2. Next it gets real simple – select your finished image and copy it (ctrl+C).
3. You should have the image you want to brand open in another tab already, scroll over to that image and right click on it. Follow the pathway: edit>paste as>new layer. Your logo should appear on the image.
Any editing of the photo should be done prior to putting your logo on as it will distort the colours of your mark. Although, as you can see from the b&w photo below, sometimes that can help!
Props go to my sister Ashley White (graphic designer, portrait artist, general knitterific crafter – see examples of her work here: https://koigold.wordpress.com/) for creating the new logo (as well as my blog header and two more options just in case I change my mind)!
For more information on Copyright Law in Canada visit: