Copyright Owners - How to Protect Your Work


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Daniel Woolsey is being sentenced for felony in California. He was caught selling pirated copies of Autodesk's AutoCAD(R) software. Additional counts for selling other pirated software, including Adobe PhotoShop, were dropped as part of a plea bargain agreement. “This case should be a wake up call to copyright violators that they can face serious consequences. Autodesk will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies . . . to protect our valuable intellectual property . . . . " said Sandy Boulton, director of Piracy Prevention at Autodesk.

Why should photographers care about this? Because we don't want our intellectual property - copyrights/trademarks/trade secrets - stolen from us. When we share that music file with a friend or copy Photoshop from a colleague, we are perpetuating the problem, even if it is on a small scale. Is it ok to steal a pack of gum but not a car?

Here's what you can do to keep people from stealing your images. First, don't steal others’ work. Stop the cycle.

Second, like the software companies, make your work difficult to steal. Don't put large files on the web. Put a watermark on them. Track them on the web with a program such as “Digimarc. " Include a delivery memo with your photos to document what you are sending. Specifically identify the limited rights you are granting to any user. Put your name and contact info with your images. Include your copyright notice on all of your work.

Third, just like the Autodesk company above, prosecute those who steal your work. Send the message that it's not ok to steal the gum or the car.

Take my advice, get professional help.

Copyright 2005 Carolyn E. Wright


Carolyn E. Wright, Esq. , has a unique legal practice aimed squarely at the needs of photographers. A pro photographer herself, Carolyn has the credentials and the experience to protect photographers. She’s represented clients in multimillion dollar litigations, but also has the desire to help new photographers just starting their careers. Carolyn graduated from Emory University School of Law with a Juris Doctor, and from Tennessee Tech Univ. with a Masters of Business Administration degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in music.

She wrote the book on photography law. “88 Secrets to the Law for Photographers, " by Carolyn and well-known professional photographer, Scott Bourne, is scheduled for fall 2005 release by Olympic Mountain School Press. Carolyn also is a columnist for PhotoFocus Magazine.

Carolyn specializes in wildlife photography and her legal website is


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