What is real
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Photograph Protection in the Social Media Era


Photographs are a must-have tool for businesses in the creative industries. To generate an impact on social media, it is essential for an individual or organisation to have a significant visual presence. It is well-known that a picture says more than a thousand words. Moreover, a good picture – published at the right time – can lift a business out of anonymity, propel it into the minds of consumers, and thus help the business differentiate itself from the competition.

Avoiding Copyright Infringement on Social Media

When a picture is shared on a social network, it is important to consider whether the image can be taken and used, without permission, by another individual or organisation. A professional photographer therefore needs to not only invest time and money into learning the requisite creative and technical skills, he or she also needs to invest time into learning how to legally protect work published on social media. In doing so, a photographer will be able to protect his or her works over the short and long term.

Copyright Law

Amateur and professional photographers can use copyright law to help prevent the unauthorised use of their photographs, thus benefiting their businesses. The first step is to examine the terms and conditions associated with the social media platform on which the image is being posted. It is then necessary to track where, when and by whom the images are subsequently used.

Present-day technology also enables the original owner of the image to add copyright information to the metadata. Copyright protection data can, for example, be incorporated into a JPEG file with the use of a photo editing program. A photographer may, however, be unaware of this feature. Even if he or she is aware, finding out how to do it requires a degree of research.

If a copyright infringement is discovered, the initial course of action is to ask the perpetrator to take down the photograph. If the perpetrator refuses, the next step is to ask for a sum of money in exchange for using the image. It is also possible to pursue both courses of action simultaneously but, in practice, this is not commonly done.


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