Pros and Cons of Watermarks

Posting artworks online is an economical as well as appealing way for artists to spread their art far and wide. But is it safe? By putting it out there, are you not offering it to anyone and everyone to claim as their own? There have been umpteen stories about artists’ works being copied or claimed by others as their own. Copyright infringement is a reality.

But the big question is do they still own the copyright to the images once they have posted them online? The answer is yes. You own the copyright to your work as soon as you have created it. So what can you do to protect your copyright? Should you post thumbnail images only? Should you paste watermarks over them so nobody can reproduce or copy your work? Or should you attach copyright notices with each and every image? Today’s post is my attempt to answer all these questions and many more, but be warned, these are my personal inputs so if in doubt, seek legal advice.

To Watermark or Not?

Adding a small watermark to your images is a good way of sending the message that they are not up for grabs. It reminds people of the fact that they cannot use your images without your permission. When they come across your work on the internet, a watermark will point out the fact that it is not theirs. On the flipside, a watermark can have its cons too. If it’s too big or overpowering, it can ruin your work of art or at the least distract from it. So tread with caution.

What should a Watermark look like?  

A watermark can be your company’s name, your personal name, or your logo. It should be as subtle as possible. A good watermark is one that doesn’t distract from your image. If it is too big, it will cover your artwork and your friends and patrons will not be able to see it. Standard practice is to keep it fairly small, place it in the bottom right corner and keep the opacity at 50% or less.  That way it is semi transparent yet visible and doesn’t distract from the image.

What should be the Size of your Images?

It is generally recommended to post small images online to prevent theft as these will become blurred when enlarged hence making it impossible to copy or reproduce. However, too small an image will not do justice to your work. At the same time, large image files also slow down your website. So the best option is to optimize your file as well as image size.

Do Watermarks really protect?

A simple watermark placed in a corner can easily be cropped out of your image by thieves so it is not a good enough protection against piracy. However, a full image watermark, the kind that stock photography companies use to protect images can serve as protection as it subtly covers the entire image and cannot be removed without wrecking the picture itself. But this comes with a cost as it takes away from your image.

My Watermark

While I don’t watermark my images in the literal sense, I have devised a tactic that serves as a watermark in its own unique way. Since my objective was to watermark my images in my personalized style at the same time serve as a subtle reminder of my copyright and prevent theft, I thought what better option than my signature itself!  So here’s what I do. I just sign my painting strategically and discreetly in such a way that my signature is placed somewhere in the middle of the artwork and not in a corner. This way, my signature serves as my watermark but since it kind of blends into the composition it is difficult to remove without spoiling the image itself. Killing two birds with one stone don’t you think? Here are images of some of my paintings with my signature as my watermark.

Whether you decide to watermark your images or not is totally your choice. Where and what kind of watermark you wish to plaster on your work is also your decision. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t spoil the images but lets people know that you own them.  If you decide not to use watermarks, a copyright notice in the footer can also serve the purpose. More importantly, let your fans enjoy your work.

2 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Watermarks

  1. Great information.
    Thanks, learnt something new.
    Never thought of this angle, but now I realize what it is, it is good to be aware of the best preventive measures.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An interesting piece! I like the way you have taken up the ‘watermarking’ issue and the strategic way you have placed your signature.

    Liked by 1 person

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