Protecting my Copyright and my Livelihood…not an easy task these days.

Is THIS how I have to copyright and watermark my photos now to post them online? I am starting to think it is!

One of the simple “Golden Rules” of living is; “Don’t take things that don’t belong to you” seems to have been forgotten in this cyber world of ours. I feel it is part of my job as a Photographer and Artist to remind viewers of my work that this simple rule still applies. With today’s “if it’s on the web it must be FREE” take on photos, art and music, creatives of all kinds are under attack and we have to be more vigilant than ever. Over the last few weeks I have dealt with more than my share of copyright infringement issues. It boggles my mind STILL (and I’m not sure why it still does, but it does) that people take a knowingly copyright protected image and use it, thinking no one will ever find out. Of course, I can’t be all over the place but I do have many eyes out there and I thank them for alerting me of these offenders but I do know that I cannot catch everyone.

In one case the “offender” used my hard work, without my permission, to upload to a paint chip site so they could get the palette to paint a bedroom. That is NOT acceptable. In the other case the “offender” posted one of my best selling limited edition photos on their Facebook page and not only stripped my copyright off but added a texture overlay to my protected photo – this is a blatant and flagrant offense of copyright infringement. The “offender” then claimed it was their right under the “Freedom of the Press” act as a journalist to do what they did…wow…I’ve never heard that one before! That is also NOT acceptable. NO USE WITHOUT PERMISSION IS ACCEPTABLE….PERIOD! Needless to say I went after both of them with a vengeance and alerted Facebook and the paint chip website of this violation (hence I have earned the nickname “Ninja Warrior Copyright Protector” – it’s a joke people) and the photos were quickly removed.

Here is our lesson of the day……What is Copyright Infringement? Copyright infringement occurs when someone other than the copyright holder copies the “expression” of a work. To fully understand copyright infringement, you must understand what rights you hold as a copyright holder. You own more than just the rights to reproduce the work filed with the US Copyright Office. An owner of a copyright owns a “bundle” of rights. Each of these rights can be sold or assigned separately. Copyright infringement occurs when one of those rights are used without the express consent of the copyright owner.


What does “All Rights Reserved” really mean? It means that under the confines of the law, that all their rights to proclaim and maintain their patent, copyright, or ownership of the advertised product is legally theirs to reserve to pursue action against those that infringe upon their rights.

Bottom line – let’s all live within the GOLDEN RULE – “don’t take things that are not yours” – Ask permission BEFORE you decide to “use” another artists work! Ignorance is NOT an excuse anymore! We all work very hard in this business to earn a decent living and there is considerable time and money that goes into producing photographs. To me it is like someone walking into my house and taking something then walking out with it like nothing happened when one of my photos is “stolen” – this is EXACTLY what it is like. It is theft and that is why there are LAWS to protect us! My photos are OWNED by me under the US Copyright Laws and by merely posting them on Facebook, which is a very important part of my marketing strategy, does NOT mean they are free to use…..which is why I post this under every photo I upload to any social media site:

“Friends, feel free to ‘Share’ (sharing does not mean USE – it just means SHARE) this photo, with your friends and family here on Facebook only, but please remember this is a copyrighted photo and you may not use it for yourself, your Facebook page or for your business for ANY reason, without express written permission and usage fees, if applicable. It’s not only illegal but it’s BAD KARMA and I will take action! Thank you for respecting my copyright. © 2013 Cheyenne L Rouse – All Rights Reserved.”

All of this of course takes me away from what I should be doing – being out in the amazing Southwest shooting photos and marketing them to the world as well as ALL of the other day to day business at hand – NOT playing “Sergeant Cheyenne” Police Woman!!! I don’t like being mean and angry but I WILL BE when I find someone taking my hard work without prior written permission and no regard for the law……… me, you DO not want to see me turn into the “Ninja Warrior Copyright Protector“…it is NOT pretty!

Ok – I feel SO much better now……thanks for listening!

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5 Comments. Leave new

Steven Bennett
March 6, 2013 2:51 pm

My friend, Jeff Aiello shared your web post about copyrights on his Facebook page. I don’t know if you find this interesting or helpful, but as an intellectual property attorney I can say that here is what the U.S. law says is copyright infringement. Title 35 of the United States Code, section 106 states: The “owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive right to do and to authorize any of the following: (1) to reproduce the copyright work in copies …; (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work; (3) to distribute copies … of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending; …; (5) in the case of … pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, … to display the copyrighted work publicly …”. Section 501(a) states: “Anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner as provided by sections 106 through 122 … is an infringer of the copyright …”. When someone thinks they can freely re-use anything on the Internet, they are obviously violating the law. In addition, section 102(a) states: “Copyright protection subsists … in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression”. Thus, the copyright automatically exists whether or not a copyright notice is displayed on the photo.

Thank you Steven….that is VERY helpful info………………thanks for posting it…………..I might repost the info on my Facebook page…..I feel like a VERY big part of my job is educating about copyright and what it is….so many just have NO idea……thank you again! Cheyenne

Go get-em NINJA WARRIOR, from one of your admirers and supporters.

Thanks…..I did and I WILL……………:)

Well said, Cheyenne and documented.

The World-Wide-Web began to make a global world more accessible…above. Below there is a whole underground world that is dark and dangerous. Let’s show our boundaries loud and clear!

Photographers who create images is work and a profession. If that someone who decides to “take” an image belonging to another, then ask them how they made it, what it took to capture it, when did they take it, where it was taken and why? I hear a bit of stuttering…:)