Sunday 8 May 2016

Watermarks and copyright...(freebie)

Disclaimer: Ok, so firstly I'm not a lawyer/solicitor nor have I studied law so I can't ADVISE anyone on Copyright or IP (Intellectual Property). If legal advice is what you're after make an appointment with someone who's qualified to give such. The tips I share in this blog are anecdotal. Links at the bottom of the page contain more detailed information about Copyright Law in both UK and US.

(image on the left is a downloadable freebie)

As an artist I am aware of the importance of Copyright and I protect my artworks to some degree by imprinting textual watermarks on anything I upload online (image above left excepted). There was a time I didn't watermark - I was simply happy to share my work and get it out there to be seen. But a pal, worried that my artworks might get ripped off (and there are quite a few tales of such circling about), pleaded with me to do so. I listened. 

It's understood that by law the copyright of an artwork remains the property of the artist. This also applies to literature, music and choreographed dance plus other dramatic works (see UK Copyright Act 1988). Unless the artwork is sold 'outright', including and specifying copyright, then even after an artwork is bought the copyright remains the property of the artist. The artwork cannot be altered or copied by the buyer. If it's a piece of Public Art it cannot be moved from site without the agreement and involvement of the artist. There are some differences between UK and US Copyright Law.

I'm not sure that the presence of a watermark would stop someone determined enough to steal my work but it might act as a deterrent. If there's two similar drawings and one hasn't been watermarked it's likely the latter will be copied sooner than the other. Watermarks can easily be added through iWatermark, Photoshop or most other photo editors and can either be visible or invisible on screen. 

Adding a firm warning about infringement of copyright on each page of your website may not prevent a hardened thief from copying your work but may stand up in court if you decide to take action. 

Some suggest disabling right-clicking on your artwork images but all the thief with a keyboard has to do is to click the 'Print Screen' button.

Once copyright has been breached on the internet it can be difficult to exercise your rights although there are some success stories. If your work has been copied in another country where laws either differ or may not be enforced you may need to put a lot of energy into prosecuting theft of your work if that's what you decide to do. has good advice about only posting images that you've re-sized - 'How to Protect Images of Your Artwork From Being Stolen Online'  This process may prove time consuming but could be worthwhile especially if you're trying to sell your work online without worry.


If you'd like to copy and print the non-watermarked ginger haired beauty at the top left of the page please do, it's a freebie. Just right-click on it and then click 'save as'. I ask that you don't make multiple copies or use it to make products that you sell - permission to download is given with the understanding that it's a single copy for your own personal use.

Artist's Resale Rights: GOV UK
Defend Your IP: GOV UK

Draw With Jazza YT video - 'The Artist's Guide to Copyright and IP'

DACS article - 'Fair Use: copyright differences in the UK and US'
Writers&Artists article - 'Copyright law for artists'

Tomorrow's Blog: 'Bullet Planning'

Copyright © 2016 by Roisin O'Hagan/bloowabbit
All rights reserved. The artworks/illustrations or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the artist except for specific permission granted with a free downloadable.

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