Guide

Protecting your creative work online: top tips

If you are showcasing your creative work online, you are probably well 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 this this scenario? We've put together a list of five simple precautions to help you protect your creative work online.

1. 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. See more in copyright for your business.

2. 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 your work is protected by law which, in turn, may deter potential wrongdoers.

3. Watermark your image - Watermarking - where you insert your name, logo or other ownership details in a translucent layer directly onto an image - is another possible deterrent. Most editing packages, as well as some apps and online tools will allow you to do this. Placement of the watermark is crucial - if it's too subtle or tucked to the side, it can be easily cropped 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.

4. Examine the small print - Make sure to read carefully terms and conditions of any websites, and especially social media, where you post your images and designs. You will want to make sure that you’re not unknowingly giving up your rights or making concessions. State your terms clearly for anything you post, including if you're reserving copyright or even granting permissions under a licence, such as the Creative Commons.

5. Search for stolen images - If you believe that your images are at risk of copying, you can always run them the 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, in which case you can take steps to deal with the infringement.

For more advice and guidance on protecting your work online, see digital intellectual property and your business.