Photographers: It’s Time to Update Your Copyright

Photographers: It’s Time to Update Your Copyright

While it is true that a photo or design element is instantly copyrighted the moment it’s created, there are still a few good reasons to update your copyright on your website and within your metadata in photos at the start of a new year. 

Copyright has proven to be a tricky topic on the internet. From bands (and brands) who should know better using photos without permission in a commercialized manner to photographers stealing other photographer’s work, the internet is ripe with copyright infringement. While having that little “©2019” badge on your website and within your metadata on photos won’t prevent anyone from stealing your work, it’s still good to have.

Aside from adding an extra layer of legal protection for your brand and work, updating your copyright at the footer of every page of your website shows potential clients that you keep your site up-to-date and are attentive. To website visitors, seeing an out-of-date copyright footer is a sign that a website may not have all the most current info or portfolio work, even if that’s not really the case. 

There are many ways to add copyright information to your images, but one of the simplest ways to accomplish this is through Lightroom. Lightroom has an option to create a “Metadata Preset” with all of your pertinent copyright info. Within the preset, you’re able to add information to the IPTC Copyright and IPTC Creator sections (short for International Press Telecommunications Council, which is considered to be the professional standard of metadata). Again, though these steps will not stop anyone from stealing content, it does show a better level of professionalism than a hobbyist photographer and still gives an added layer of legal protection.

If you want to create your own copyright metadata preset within Lightroom, navigate over to the Library Module. From there you can head to Metadata>Edit Metadata Presets where you’ll be able to add all of your info. Apply this preset any time you’re importing new photos to Lightroom. 

Updating your copyright information is a quick and easy way to keep your business up to date and protected. The new year is the perfect time to update your brand, website, portfolio, and camera gear, so while you’re at it, give updating your copyright info a try.

Lead Image by via Pexels, used under Creative Commons.

Danette Chappell's picture

Danette is a Las Vegas-based wedding and elopement photographer who's photographed over 1,500 weddings and elopements in 14 different states. She has a passion for teaching business and helping other creative entrepreneurs succeed. She also loves cats, Harry Potter, and the occasional video game.

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Good looking out...completely forgot to do that this week!

A few years ago I put an annually repeating reminder on my calendar. haven't missed updating again since then.

An even even bigger issue is to ensure your work is registered at the United States Copyright Office.

There is no such thing as an about of date copyright. A copyright date shows the date the work was first created. So add the additional year but don’t remove the old date. If you say you first published a work is in 2019 but someone else says 2017 then the older date takes presidence. But if you created the work in 2016 that’s the date the copyright should show. Your website is a work. The copyright for a website should reflect the first use. Then add additional years. Talk to a copyright lawyer as this isn’t legal advice, but what I have learned in lots of copyright training classes.

This is exactly the reason why we use a digital "datestamping" service. It's pretty failsafe. We use but there are a few others.

Why bother putting a year on your copyright footer? Is it because you just like doing pointless work at the start of every new year?

I'm old school, I still use Photomechanic like many press photographers.

Thanks for reminding about it because I always forget to do that on my website It's really important.

A simple Trick with php for your website:
This puts every year the right date automaticly

<?php $year = date("Y"); ?>

©1999-<?php echo $year ?> by YOUR NAME OR COMPANY

Thank you.

We register / "datestamp" all photos (and also storyboards and mood boards) through a digital service called Ideaposit to register our copyrights, before we send them to the customer or put them on social media. This is an online registry/service.
We were advised to follow this route by a copyrights lawyer. It's the safest and most economical way for us and it's easy to use.
I personally am lazy ;-) and process files in batches (zipfiles), which is a nice feature of that system.