To Watermark or To Not Watermark

Steel City Skyline

HALT! Who goes there?

I generally don’t like to watermark my photos and illustrations. When I built the main MOF website, I made a conscious decision to not watermark any of the images. I continued the practice when I established the MOF blog, and the MOF Community Page on Facebook. The only time I’ve really watermarked my images has been when others have asked me to provide examples of my work for their blogs.

Although I completely understand when other artists display their work online with ads, Java scripts or other things to protect their images against theft, plagiarism and other unauthorized use, I highly appreciate it when they take the risk of applying little or no security measures. I do not take that for granted. I too want to be as open and affable.

To me, increasing security measures on art is analogous to the way western governments now help foreign and domestic terrorists achieve their aims at disrupting societies by heightening security measures on public streets, in airports, subway stations, on cross-country trains and at tourist attractions. I’m not against necessary security measures; “necessary” being the operative word, I’m just anti-paranoia.

Many westerners born since 9/11 may never know what it’s like to not live with that level of suspicion and fear. My childhood and adolescence was not without various types of personal, social, political and national safety concerns but in comparing how society was when I was growing up to how it is now, I think that I was privileged.

The time seems to have finally come, nonetheless, for me to capitulate to the cyber-thieves and start to at least watermark every image that I post on my sites from here in. This comes after two blogs that I follow have been raided in recent months.

Some of you may already know that this past June someone ripped off an entire post from Rommel’s blog The Sophomore Slump, and posted it on their blog in their own name. There wasn’t even a link or reblog ping-back to indicate the original source. They didn’t just use Rommel’s pictures they translated what he wrote into another language, word-for-word. He discovered the theft by happenstance.

Around the same time, Cardinal Guzman (I don’t know if that’s his real name or if he has borrowed it from the Louis de Bernières book titled “The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman”) was nailed similarly.

I don’t use other people’s stuff without giving them credit. Even when I interview other artists for one of my blog series’, I ask them to submit examples of their work with watermarks. I prefer to name the people I’m quoting. There are many visual and literary artists who are not famous or hugely successful by any other means but who are still hugely talented. They deserve respect.

I’m quite happy to help other artists spread their names around. No, I never get a pat on the back or anything for it but I do it anyway. While there are many who think that artists’ solidarity is a myth I believe in it, and act to make it real. It’s important. Maybe it’s even the best security measure any artist can have in his or her arsenal against scoundrels.

If you want to use something from me, don’t be afraid that I may be the money-grabbing type. Yes, I do want financial compensation for some things but not everything. You can use my stuff so long as you ask and give me a good idea as to what you want to use it for.


13 thoughts on “To Watermark or To Not Watermark

  1. I tried to watermark my pictures. I tried. I really did. But it’s just that … it loads to long. I have no time for it.

    Creating one post alone takes me from 1 to 3 hours, some even longer. My Featured Blog footnote, that isn’t hard either. I had to make a decision which blog to feature. I had to browse the blog and really remember my most favorite post. My blogposts, not trying to be arrogant, I do take my time creating them even in my little time. To have my pictures and words used to make a post by another blogger is just heinous.

    I don’t have time for adding watermarks on my images. Include the time to read other blogs, browsing through the Blogs I Follow and attending my commentators, blogging does eat most of my time. Plus, I want to travel else I don’t have anything to post. Hehehehe.

  2. I found a post of mine re-named and run off in totality as the work of a thief which I complained about and had it dealt with appropriately. As to watermarking, I have yet to explore that option but the thought of strangers making financial gain from my images is particularly galling considering I haven’t quite worked out how to do that for myself!

    • It’s atrocious! If only they would just sit down and try to collect their thoughts in an organized and liberating manner, they might come up with something interesting and important. They may realize that they don’t have to steal.

      Even if they never become Pulitzer Prize winners, all they have to do is put a little effort in to expressing themselves.

      Apart from drawing and painting, I thoroughly enjoyed writing from I was really young; I’m talking about Grade 1 young. Other people’s writings inspired me to write more of my own thoughts and improve at it little-by-little, not rip them off.

    • Patti: That’s what bothers me too. I don’t care if people re-blog, or use my stuff within “fair use” (quoting, using parts of the text or whatever), but it’s annoying to see people steal other bloggers work because they’re trying to make a profit from it.

  3. I was sure that I had already written a comment here, so I came back to check for replies only to realize that I had forgotten to write anything!
    Thanks for mentioning my post and thanks a lot for leading me onto Rommel’s blog: a fantastic blog with great photos from interesting places.
    So, I guess I can say that these thieving spammers led to something good after all (even if it was not their intention).

  4. I used to photograph cycling, I would put all the photos up on my site for people to buy. They weren’t expensive, quite cheap really, but still the kids at cycling would just steal them. Put them all over facebook, even though they had very heavy watermarks all over them. I would get friend requests from kids using my image that they had stolen as their profile pic. It was so frustrating. So I learned how important watermarking was. I also learned that people think of the net as free game and you can take what you want. It is all free. So I watermark, not all images, some I don’t care about, but any that I love or are important, then I watermark. I have learned how to do it now so I don’t get complaints from people asking me not to do it.

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