How Designers and Photographers Can Protect Their Intellectual Property

Pexels Photo 669615 1

The evolution of the business world into this digital economy that we have all grown to know and appreciate has brought about solutions that were inconceivable to previous generations.

For instance, think about when people had to wait for days to even find a suitable candidate to do a design or deliver specific images for them. Switch to now, where they are able to connect to thousands of such individuals and businesses within minutes through online staffing platforms.

However, the profusion of these solutions also brings its own set of issues to the table. While employers sometimes face their Gordian knot in finding online freelancers or businesses who can actually pull off the job with the required elan, providers have the pressing worry of protecting their intellectual property from being misused only because they shared samples with a potential employer housing malicious intentions.

While vetting practices such as checking the providers’ reviews and digital footprint could resolve the aforementioned predicament for the employers, it is trickier for providers to protect their intellectual property – especially in today’s day and age where digital theft is a stroll in the park and reclaiming your intellectual property is a walk through Hell.

If you are a designer or photographer, then it is prudent to know the steps that you can take to prevent finding yourself in such a situation, or at least having the knowledge of what to do when you somehow end up in one.

So without further ado, let’s go ahead and look through a few tried and tested solutions to this ubiquitous problem. Who knows, they might just be the panacea for your woes of protection.

Watermark Your Images

Being a designer or photographer, there is virtually no way that you can get a high paying job without sharing your work samples with potential employers. However, since you always have to share them digitally, it gets very easy for others to copy your provided images.

Even if you have put a saving restriction on the webpage through which you share your images, people can still screenshot it via desktop or phone and use it wherever they like without you even being aware of it.

That is where watermarking comes in. By ensuring that you have your name or symbol of choice all over an image without affecting its sample aesthetic, you can relax in the knowledge that no one who is stealing your samples is getting a fully functional copy or use out of them. Watermarking is easy as well: you can download apps such as Visual Watermark and protect your images through this method in no time.

Delve Into Non-Disclosure Agreements

While this is relatively more intricate than the simple method of utilizing a watermarking app, having a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place can actually go a long way in protecting not only your intellectual property, but any facts and details about your business or operations that you would not like to be shared publicly for everyone to see.

You may obtain template agreements from various online sources, but it’s always helpful to know what you are getting into. This guide to NDAs does a good job in elucidating what to expect out of this arrangement.

Pexels Photo 355988

Don’t Let People Walk All Over You

In case any of your images are used without your permission, don’t think of the event as the apocalypse of your career. Instead, if you have the resources, consult a lawyer about the situation to learn more about your rights. Depending upon how the images were obtained by the malicious party and how they were used, you may actually have a good chance in bringing the case to court.

While it is likely going to be a long legal battle, there have been cases where photographers were granted a win against such thefts. One such prominent case was recorded when photographer Daniel Morel won a $1.2 million lawsuit against Getty Images and Agence France-Presse (AFP) for unauthorized use of his photographs that he had posted to Twitter.

Navigate the Digital World With Confidence

While operating in the digital space as a provider, there’s always a likelihood of someone using your work without authorization. As much as we would all like this to be a perfect world where such incidents do not take place, the fact of the matter remains that they do, and we have to be prepared for them.

The key is to be confident in knowing your rights and taking necessary measures to ensure that they are not violated. Start with simple steps such as watermarking your work which could ensure that you are safe from accidents, but do not hesitate from advancing towards seeking justice in case any other of your intellectual property gets misused by anyone.

Avatar Of Jeremy Kaplan
Written by
Jeremy Kaplan

A 50-something year old lifestyle, career, and education blogger based in Atlanta, Georgia. Years of experience in the office setting working with others and still loving it year-after-year.

View all articles