What Comes Around

Daniel Woolsey is being sentenced for felony today in California. He was caught selling pirated copies of Autodesk’s AutoCAD(R) software. Additional counts for selling other pirated software, including Adobe PhotoShop, were dropped as part of a plea bargain agreement. “This case should be a wake up call to copyright violators that they can face serious consequences. Autodesk will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies . . . to protect our valuable intellectual property . . . .” said Sandy Boulton, director of Piracy Prevention at Autodesk.

Why should photographers care about this? Because we don’t want our intellectual property – copyrights/trademarks/trade secrets – stolen from us. When we share that music file with a friend or copy Photoshop from a colleague, we are perpetuating the problem, even if it is on a small scale. Is it ok to steal a pack of gum but not a car?

Here’s what you can do to keep people from stealing your images. First, don’t steal others’ work. Stop the cycle.

Second, like the software companies, make your work difficult to steal. Don’t put large files on the web. Put a watermark on them. Track them on the web with a program such as “Digimarc.” www.digimarc.com Include a delivery memo with your photos to document what you are sending. Specifically identify the limited rights you are granting to any user. Put your name and contact info with your images. Include your copyright notice on all of your work.

Third, just like the Autodesk company above, prosecute those who steal your work. Send the message that it’s not ok to steal the gum or the car.

Take my advice, get professional help.

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