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Avoid the surprise of seeing your artwork elsewhere on the web

The Web makes it easy to let others see your images. It also makes it easy for others to steal your images or use them without permission. That's why smart photographers add digital watermarks to their images. Ben Long looks at the options.

As anyone who's ever illegally downloaded an MP3 file already knows, stealing a digital asset is really easy. With Web-based digital images it's even easier. Whether your work is delivered on-line or via physical prints, it's worth taking a few extra steps to help protect your rights as a creator.

Placing a visible watermark is a great way of establishing your ownership of an image while simultaneously deterring theft. After all, an image is far less useful if it's got a big "Copyright" logo burned into it. The downside to this approach, of course, is that your lovely compositions will be marred by a graphic and, depending on where you position the watermark, there's no reason an image thief can't just crop it out.

None of these technologies can prevent a user from downloading and saving your images, of course, but most people want to use images legally. If they see that the image has obviously been copyrighted, they're more likely to look elsewhere for imagery. What's more, these techniques help quickly establish your ownership of an image, making it easier to discourage a thief -- either a deliberate or inadvertent thief -- from using your pictures. - Framed and Exposed: Rightly Writing Copyright