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As you can guess from the title of our Digital Asset Management system, Asset Bank, we are in the business of helping you store, protect and share your assets. You probably know this, but just to be clear we’re not talking about financial assets, we’re talking about your digital assets, such as adverts, logo, videos and of course images. Most major organisations these days protect the usage of their images by adding a watermark. This is advisable to prevent others from copying your image and using it elsewhere. But sometimes you might want one of your images to be viewed in its entirety without the distraction of a watermark. What do you do in this instance? In this blog we explore all the pro’s and con’s of using watermarks, recap on the latest legal situation and provide some further advice on how to use watermarks with your images in Asset Bank.

Example-of-a-watermark-Asset-Bank-1 Our Asset Bank Watermark.

Pro’s of using watermarks

  • Placing a prominent watermark on your images will deter other individuals or organisations from copying your images and using them on the web or if the resolution is large enough, for print.
  • If your watermark complements the image you can use watermarked images on channels where sharing is encouraged. This helps increase your brand exposure.
  • If you sell rights to people to use your images (such as our clients The Royal Pavilion and The National Archives) you will definitely want to use watermarks when people are browsing your images. Of course once they have bought rights to use your image you can release higher resolution images without watermarks.

Con’s of using watermarks

  • Using a watermark can reduce the impact of your image, how much depends on the styling of your watermark. Unfortunately there is a bit of catch 22 here, because the less intrusive your watermark the less success you will have in deterring people from copying and using your image. For example if the watermark is subtly placed in a corner, it is easier to crop it out of the picture.
  • In the pro’s section we mentioned using a watermark on images which you want people to share can help your branding. There may be a downside to this approach in that your image might lose it’s shareability.
  • Unfortunately if people really want to use your image without the watermark there are number of ways they can remove it. Just google ‘remove watermarks’ and you will see what we mean!

What’s the legal position?

Across Canada, UK and Europe there are changes being made to copyright law (for the UK see section 77-116A of the UK Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 ) which are causing quite a bit of controversy. The controversial legislation concerns ‘orphan works’, permitting the usage of images (or other media) where metadata (which might include information about the author) is missing. As many of the large social media networks strip out metadata from images, this could become a big issue for image owners. There is a clause in the UK law that states would be users have to make a diligent search to find the owner of the copyright, but it’s a bit early to say whether this clause will help. Either way if you have a piece of image or media that you want to protect it’s probably best to register a copyright. Anyone making a ‘diligent search’ should be able to find you but more importantly, you will be in a strong position to take action if you find your image being used without your permission.

Our recommendations

  • Register a copyright for your valuable images and assets
  • Don’t upload large pictures to your website and social media channels unless you really have to.
  • Use a prominent watermark on all assets in your Asset Bank. Use a more subtle watermark for Assets on your website and across the web.
  • Use image searches tools like TinEye and Google Image Search to check if your images are being used without your permission.

Using Watermarks with Asset Bank

When you set up with Asset Bank (or at a later date) you can create a watermark which can be automatically applied to your assets upon upload. Users will see the watermark on your assets when they browse, it will only be removed when users download an asset, as long as they have the appropriate permissions. Immediately prior to download you have the option to protect your copyright by asking users to agree to your terms and conditions. You can also specify how people use your assets, for example if they need to credit your website or the photographer and how this needs to be done.

Read more on using watermarks with Asset Bank

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