Protecting your creative work online: top tips


If you are showcasing your creative work online, you are probably aware of the risks you are taking - people borrowing, using and distributing your images and designs without your permission, often with a simple click of a mouse.

So how do you deal with this scenario? We've put together a list of five simple precautions to help you protect your creative work online.

Understand copyright 

Copyright is a legal right that protects the use of artistic creations such as photographs, videos, webpages, print and online publications. If you're relying on creative assets, it's important to understand how this legal right applies and how to use copyright for your business.

Use a copyright notice

As a creator, you can place a copyright notice on or next to your work. The notice should include the copyright symbol © or the word 'copyright', the year the work was first published or created, and the name of the copyright owner. For example, © 2016 Jane Doe. While it won't prevent someone from stealing your work, a copyright notice will make it clear that the law protects your work. This, in turn, may deter potential wrongdoers.

Watermark your image 

Inserting your name, logo or other ownership details in a translucent layer directly onto an image - known as watermarking - is another possible deterrent. Most editing packages, as well as some apps and online tools, allow you to do this. Placement of the watermark is crucial - if it's too subtle or tucked to the side, someone can easily crop it out of the image. On the other hand, a conspicuous mark will be harder to edit out, but it may distract from the original image.

Examine the small print

Make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions of any websites, and especially social media, where you post your images and designs. You don't want to unknowingly give up your rights or make concessions. State your terms clearly for anything you post, including if you're reserving copyright or even granting permissions under a licence, such as Creative Commons.

Search for stolen images 

If you believe that your images are at risk of copying, you can always run them through a reverse image search such as Tineye. An image query via a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo will also tell you if identical copies are used or distributed elsewhere on the internet. If this is the case, you can take steps to deal with the infringement.