When putting artwork or photographs on the internet,
it can become “fair game” to the whole world, despite copyright laws. There are complicated codes that can prevent images from being copied, but these codes are not used on all sites. Social media sites like Facebook or Flickr do not protect your images and what you upload, can be downloaded.
In this time of open sources, privacy issues in Facebook and other social sharing sites, and on-line stores, it can be difficult to protect your images. Placing a watermark in the middle of the picture is one way to protect it. However, that severely lowers the quality of your image. If you are trying to present your work to potential customers, you want it to be sharp and clear. Additionally, with software like Photoshop CS5, a watermark can be easily eliminated.
So how does one protect art work on the internet and still take advantage of the vast marketing potential offered by social media? You could limit your exposure only to sites where your work can not be easily copied, for example www.Artid.com. Or you can recognize the risks involved and post only work that is “web friendly” but not “print friendly”. Be aware of the resolution of the file you post. If your image is 500 pixels on the longest side, it will be large enough to see clearly on the computer screen but can not be enlarged beyond that size. An added plus to that size is how rapidly it will load. Your viewers will appreciate the quick load time.
Accept the risk that the image might be “borrowed”. But since your work cannot increase in size easily, your file will not be very useful to the borrower. Be sure to always mark or sign your work clearly. On social networks, friends will share images they like, not intending to steal but rather to share an experience. That is why we network. It is a great chance for your work to be viewed by a new and larger audience. The internet is a great new way for artists and photographers to market their work. If your name is clearly marked, someone who sees your work might become a fan. Use the internet wisely and take care to protect your work as much as you can.
A helpful hint for those who use Photoshop: To easily scale your image smaller and quickly, use the “Save for Web & Devices” Command under File. It saves your image as a separate file, either jpeg, png, or bmp. Resize in the dialog box to 500 pixels on the longest side and you are ready to upload.