Interesting video about protecting your work online – or not

This post isn’t necessarily about scratchboard, but it relates to thoughts I’ve had while searching for cool scratchboard work to share and talk about. I often run across sites that attempt to keep people from stealing their artwork. The zeal to keep artwork safe can drive people like me away because I’m not interested in looking at tiny thumbnails or images with massive watermarks. I think in the long run it is counter productive to try to keep someone from taking a copy of your image.

Here are the methods I see people using to protect their work, and the reasons I think they do more harm than good:

Posting small images
If you make images so small they aren’t attractive to someone who would steal them, they are also not attractive to someone who might be interested in admiring your work, or buying it. If you want your work to be seen and appreciated, you must post it large enough to give someone an idea of what it really looks like. Security through obscurity is an especially bad tactic when it comes to artwork.
Putting a big watermark over the image
The watermark is supposed to keep people from using your artwork. It probably accomplishes the goal, but it also makes your image unsightly. Looking at artwork with large watermarks is about as fun as looking at classic cars with parking boots on them – very distracting. There is nothing wrong with a signature or small watermark that identifies you and your site. But, it should be in a corner, not splashed across the image.
Making the image so you can’t right-click it
Once you put an image online, there is no way to keep someone from downloading it. One of the simplest is to take a screenshot of it. There are others. If someone wants your image, they can get it.
Using a viewer so only a portion of the image can be seen at a time
With multiple screenshots and Photoshop the large image can be recreated. Nice try, but it doesn’t work if someone really wants your image.

The fact is, you can post relatively large images, and they still won’t have enough resolution for someone to make a quality print. If you couldn’t tell already, I am a strong advocate for posting images that are large enough to be appreciated. Yes, there is a chance someone might take an image and use it without our authorization. There is a much greater chance that someone will see the quality of the work and become a paying customer.

My good friend put together an interesting video post that deals with the same topic:

One thought on “Interesting video about protecting your work online – or not

  1. This was very inspiring. I have and still do post my work at a size for all to view without a watermark. I was getting very apprehensive because my ideas were being used and copied. Some think its flattering but that would only be those who have passed away and families are living off of the artist’s millions. Nevertheless, I have received the best feedback from posting on facebook. One piece got over 5000 views within a week another over 4000. had I squirreled the work away or used a thumbnail, that would have 9000 that would have never seen my work. Thanks for the inspiration and pep talk.

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