4.23.2014

Photographers, Videographers, and Content Creators - Protect Your Stuff!!

The online world has made quite an impact on how we, as amusement park fans, share content with the rest of the community, whether if it's through social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Youtube, or if it's through online forums on dedicated theme park websites.




Let's look at the grand scheme of things: You, the content creator, are spending money on your park admission/season pass, food for the day, and gas to visit the amusement park. You are then going around snapping photos and making mental notes on what's happening at the park. After a long day of shooting your home park's latest coaster construction, you go home, spend more time sifting through your photos, editing them, and begin writing up your draft trip report…
BUT…hold onto your horses, fellow content creators! Before you go and upload all of your hard work to the world wide web, be sure to know where these photos are going and most importantly, get to know your rights as a photographer/content creator.

Why should I be concerned?

There's a controversial tactic in use on the internet commonly known as a "Rights Grab." What exactly is that? Well, when you signed up to be a member of a particular site, you most likely agreed to their terms of service, or TOS for short. While it's easy to skim through and hit "agree," it's best to THOROUGHLY read it through. For example, here is what a "rights grab" clause in the terms of service may read like:

All photos that have been uploaded to our server are co-owned by SITE OWNER and the member who has uploaded the content. You hereby grant SITE OWNER a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license and SITE OWNER reserves the right to use your photos in updates, DVD releases, front page features, or any other medium.

What does this mean for you? Well, when you upload your photos onto SITE OWNER's  servers, you are also giving them free use of your photos. But say that down the road you decide you no longer want to be associated with a given community or your account is terminated for whatever reason, the photos you have up are still within their clutches and more often than not, will still be used.

Many online photo contests are also highly guilty of this tactic. In the end, this tactic is a means to lure people into submitting content to a given entity and agreeing that their photos can be used without attribution and without any royaltees. In a sense, this is cost-saving measure and avoiding the need to either hire a photographer or purchase stock photos to use.

What does this mean for you? Well, When you upload your photos onto the said site's servers, you are also giving them free use of your photos. But say that down the road you decide you no longer want to be associated with a given community or your account is terminated for whatever reason, the photos you have up are still within their clutches and more often than not, will still be used.

You, the content creator, should make yourself aware of any kind of TOS and if you feel uncomfortable donating your hard work (and having it be used without any kind of attribution), then don't agree and don't sign up.

What can I do to protect my photos?


How can you protect your hard work anyway when you do upload it? Well, very easily. There's a simple process called "watermarking" or "branding." 

Watermarking/branding your photos can be as simple as your blog's logo (or your name) in the lower corner. It can be subtle, as to not be too distracting, yet want to identify where the photo came from. Many times, users tend to save the photo or direct link it to your blog without any editing. Having a watermark present shows where the photo came from as most often users tend to just share the photo and not credit their source. 
Something as simple as a semi transparent logo or name in the lower corner
is sufficient for watermarking/branding your images.
Videos should also be watermarked as many Youtube users tend to "rip" video from another user and reupload it under their account. Having that watermark present can ensure that the video that was ripped and uploaded is in fact not theirs and that it came from you. We have actually had some of our watermarked images used in somebody's slideshow they had put on Youtube. Branding your content is a common practice as many ride manufacturers actually brand both their images and photos, identifying it as their content.

How can I still share my content but ensure that my content remains mine?


You've taken some great photos and would like to share with the world. At the same time, you want to ensure you have full ownership on your high quality images you had taken...after all, you spent all of that time and money.


Upload your images to an online gallery (Such as Flickr) where you have full ownership and copyright on your images. Feel free to link them to your gallery or your blog/website when you write up that trip report.

In the end, all of this is a matter of preparing yourself and "looking before you leap." Know what you're getting yourself into and consider what could happen down the road. Mark your images. Consider using a dedicated online gallery such as Flickr where you retain all rights to your photos.

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