Copyright: Facts vs Myths

Copyright: Facts vs Myths

by Charly

PREFACE: I am not an attorney, but a photographer. There is heated debate, publicly and in the courts, on how this all works when it comes to copyright. The reality is the rights of artists… no I should say “EVERYONE” are being chiseled away on a daily basis. Whether you’re an artist or not, or know an artist, this article will disspell some myths out there. It’s always a good idea to check into local, state, country and international laws yourself and seek professional advice from an attorney.


So what the heck is copyright and DMCA all about? Anything: words written, paintings, doodles, composed music, images, lyrics, songs, digital art, etc. are copyrighted by the person who created them. The creator, of whatever it may be, holds the copyright. Each country has it’s own Copyright Laws, then there’s International Copyright Relations and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Not to mention what can or cannot be seen in the image or if a photographer can even use or sell it. Who would’ve known that loving to shoot images would entail so much legal mumbo jumbo right?


Merriam-Webster Dictionary Definition:

Copyright n. – : the “exclusive legal right” to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work)

Copyright adj. – : of or relating to a copyright  : not allowed to be copied without permission from the author, composer, etc.


Myth #1:

Everything you find on the net is free to use in any way you want and any where you want.


Everything you read or see on the internet is copyrighted by someone. Most who hold the copyright request written permission from them, on their website, to use any of their copyrighted material; be it words, articles, images, lyrics, etc. Though it doesn’t matter as they are protected whether they say written permission required or not.

Simply put, using anyone’s material to represent it as your own in any way, without permission, is against many laws.


Myth #2:

Even if I do use something without permission likely it won’t be found out or anything done about it.


Well perhaps that’s true, but then again perhaps not. The reality is technology is evolving to help copyright holders find out if there’s been any misuse of their material. If any copyright holder determines you have or are using any of their copyrighted material they have a few options on how to handle it.

They might:

1. Just politely ask you to take down their material

2. Send you an invoice to pay for the usage, whereas they can ask any amount

3. Contact their country’s Copyright Office

4. Contact the DMAC

5. Sue for damages/lost income

6. Request reimbursement for all for their time and/or legal fees to follow up the misuse

7. Any or all the above and more!

Guess one then has to ask themselves if it’s worth taking the chance on using any material w/o permission.

I’ve heard of some photographers that spend a couple, few hours a day just finding those who “use” their images w/o permission. They aggressively hunt the culprits down and take action(s).

Why you may ask? Well simply put, their work is how they make a living. Photographers spend hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands on what they need to make that beautiful image you look at. If someone takes it, then they take money away from them and their families.


Myth #4:

But I cannot afford to pay for an image that I want to use on my website or to create something.


There are many stock image websites out there for you to get images at a very low to high cost. Surely paying a little something is better than just taking it right? A little at the front end might just save you a whole lot in the long run. Heck there are even sites that have free images to use legally.

Besides, what is it called when you take something w/o permission or don’t pay for it? Think about it…


Myth #5:

Well the images don’t have any copyright on them, so it’s ok to use.


It doesn’t matter if there’s a copyright on an image or not. The one who created/shot it holds the copyright! Whether it’s registered with a copyright office or not.


Myth #6:

No watermark, no copyright info, no way of identifying who took the image then it’s free to use/take


Have you ever came upon a beautiful image that either was too small to really enjoy or had copyright info smack in the middle of it? Most of you will say yes. The fact is to help deter people from taking images, the photographer will either put up a very small image/watermark it.

I personally hate putting up small images or ones with watermarks! Some of my images are gorgeous large! But alas, with so many on the internet taking without paying, I have no choice but to make them look ugly. It’s a shame really… But what else can I do? Photography is my profession and I like everyone else need to make a living.


Myth #7:

I’ll just Photoshop the artist name or copyright info out of the image, then use it without permission


Yes one can do that, but if caught you make the artist’s case that you maliciously and knowingly decided to break the law


Myth #8:

Everyone else does, so I can too!


Just one question…. If everyone jumps off a steep cliff will you follow suit also? This has to be one of the lamest excuses out there….


Of course there are tons more, but I hope that these educate some to choose a different way of thinking when it comes to “taking” or “using” something they find on the internet. Personally I would prefer working with a customer to “use” my work, then spend countless hours hunting down those who didn’t.


Here is what the DMCA puts on their Certificates of Protection:

Protection: All original content on is created by the website owner, including but not limited to text, design, code, images, photographs and videos are considered to be the Intellectual Property of the website owner, whether copyrighted or not, and are protected by DMCA Protection Services using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Title 17 Chapter 512 (c)(3). Reproduction or re-publication of this content is prohibited without permission. [Note: the ‘whether copyrighted or not’ pertains to if it’s registered with a Copyright Office]

Digital Millennium Copyright Act: Part of the US Copyright Law. The DMCA addresses penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet and protects content creators by “establishing procedures for proper notification” to OSPs when copyright infringement is identified online. Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, Title II of the DMCA “adds a new section 512 to the Copyright Act to create four new limitations on liability for copyright infringement by online service providers.” These procedures allow content creators or their designated agent to file proper DMCA Takedown notice to the OSP in case infringed material has been detected on their servers.”

This is from the Cert. of Protection on my Prints of Italy home page. Any other page would follow: or image or post name. Besides we all know how aggressive the DMCA is about images, videos, songs and the like. If you’d like to find out more about:

DMCA: please click HERE

US Copyright Office: please click HERE

International Copyright Relations: please click HERE


Here’s a great article you may enjoy too. It’s on Variety about Kurt Sutter’s (the creator of Sons of Anarchy) take on Google’s blatant Piracy. You can continue reading it HERE (warning: profanity is used in this article)


A final thought: Imagine just for a moment that you went on the internet and found very few images and written material. Due to people not wanting their material taken, they don’t bother having it online. Or that people just gave up with the misuse and pulled it off. The internet just wouldn’t be the same would it? Thanks to all the creative people around the world, the internet is full of wonderful things. Let’s work together to keep it that way!


“If you want to help “EVERYONE” maintain their right to create and not lose their material, please share this on your social media networks!” ~ Charly


By Charly

A freelance photographer that spent a month driving around Italy

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