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A Photographer’s Idea to Facebook about Copyright


Sharing photos online is simple. Crediting the photographer should be as simple, and could be if the systems that runs the social networks just tried a little harder to do just that.

I never demand of my clients that they put my name under my photos when they use them online, but if they can and do, I am happy. When used in printed materials, it happens a lot more often.

There is almost always room for ant-sized text somewhere around the photo. Web pages are not designed that way. But Facebook could do it easily.


It could work like this…

If Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and all the other social networks could add a custom tag for photo credit, in the same way they want you to tag your friends in the photos, with the photographer’s name, that would be a good start.

You can tag everything else; checking in, companies, locations and friends, why not the photographer? Just add a field and a button for it.

If they could get together and set a standard that works in the same way on any platform, it would be even better.

Use the meta data

Different social networks handles photos in different way, some strip away the meta data, some keep parts of it. Why don’t they use the copyright field to something useful? Something that could follow the photo around the world as it is being shared?

I used to ask my clients if they could add a link/tag my Facebook page when they published photos on Facebook. They almost never do.

Mostly because it is not super-simple, it is not hard, but it could be automatic, so I never had to ask. That would be perfect. Instead, I have given up, and I don’t even ask anymore.

Don’t stop sharing, but share more

And with more, I mean more useful info; who was the photographer, who was the designer, who did the make-up, who did the styling. Not just the photo.

If an image file can contain location info that is being used to map where photos are taken, the copyright field should be used as well. And very visible.

Searching for photos on Google or Bing could also benefit from using the copyright info in a better way. Clicking the photographer’s name (or designer, or something else) in the preview could start a more focused search with the photographer’s name as filter.

More links, more love

One other reason I don’t ask my clients just to write my name next to the photos I did for them is that is doesn’t really matter that much to me. Many years ago, in magazines and other printed stuff, the small print with the photographer’s name was everywhere. And it maybe did some good for them, I don’t know.

With the Internet, you need links, not just text, or a watermark.

And it would be so easy to have links, if Facebook implemented something like this, you as a photographer could go into the settings and link your metadata/copyright to your Facebook-page, and that would be fantastic.

I also think that with more links, photographers and other copyright holders, would be more positive to publish better photos and things online if they knew that there always would be a useful backlink included.

Getty Images did this brilliant move with free photos, if you embedded them the way they wanted. A classic example of “If you can’t beat them, join them”. I don’t know how it has worked out for them, but I like the idea.

And this could be in the same line, make it easier for people to credit the photographer, and maybe the photographers will like the Internet more. And use the photos in a more legal way.

I used to contact bloggers when I found out that they “borrowed” my photos, just to ask them to include a link (even the Swedish Police did that once on Facebook, with one of my photos, they never replied). Now I don’t bother, but I would be happy if they linked to my blog or portfolio.

With the link included, they could “borrow” as much as they like (almost).

Sure, people could manipulate the meta data and change the copyright (or any other metadata), but the world is not perfect. That could be a problem, of course, but that can’t be helped.

What do you think, would it be possible to do this? Do you include your name in the metadata? Do you credit the photographer when you use photos?

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