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January 25, 2007


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Chris Palmer


Completely understand and sympathise with the predicament in which you find yourself. I'm always amazed by the general population's inability to grasp or respect the basic principles of copyright (Of course it's my picture, it's go me in it!).

For what its worth, your photos are a daily inspiration for me to progress my photography (and my biking, and combining both) and I don't find the watermarks to be an overly great distraction, just an unfortunately necessary evil.

Keep up the good work.

Chris Palmer



sympathies for your predicament, and I think you've done the only thing you could.

The excellence of your work still shines through the watermark.


Seb Rogers

Thanks for the kind words.

I think the problem broadly splits into two: the people who know it's wrong but do it anyway, and those who have got used to the (false) idea that anything on the web is there for the taking. It's partly a generational thing. The music file sharing fiasco has raised public consciousness to some extent, but created the (false, again) idea that it's OK to nick stuff off the web 'cos it's only the big corporations who'll suffer...

Ignorance is no legal defence, of course. But the principle of copyright is the only thing that enables anyone, regardless of whether they earn a full-time living from it or not, to legally claim ownership of their creative endeavours and to profit by them if they so wish. It's a principle worth fighting for :)

Lloyd Hobden

Hi Seb,

I feel your pain...

I've had to adopt a similar strategy with my photography of my mtb site.

I couldn't bring myself to put my watermark right across the center of the images as you have (though I don't have the professional career to lose!) and people have consequently cropped out the watermarks which really sucks.

I've even had the experience of effectively being told 'go screw yourself' after politely writing to the admin of asking him to remove the images he had stolen from my site and posted as his own - what can a guy do - it's unbelievable how relaxed people are about copyright.

Just as bad (and you may have experienced this) is twerps ripping your images and sticking them all up on pinkbike - ah, just don't do it!

Utimately all forms of watermarking are removeable if you really dedicate some photoshop time so I feel like I'm just selling extra print-necessary pixels rather than my creative talent - which is sad.

Perhaps, dare I say it, there should be drm (digital rights management) devices developed for photographers so that we can fairly and safely show our work without fear...

Keep up the site, loving it!


Seb Rogers

Hey Lloyd,

Yep, drm tools would certainly help (digimarc comes close, but it's relatively expensive). Watermarking isn't foolproof, but frankly the Photoshop time involved in removing a watermark doesn't strike me as worth it for an image that's a few hundred pixels wide. Not that that will stop someone from trying, but at least I can make sure they waste as much time as possible ;-P

One of the worst cases of internet copyright theft I know of concerned a UK-based adventure sports magazine that lifted pictures for a feature on riding in British Columbia straight from a personal website without the owner's permission (it wasn't mine, I hasten to add). Funnily enough, the same company used one of my images without permission on its website. The website is now closed down and they've paid me for a year's web use of the image.

And that, really, is the only way to deal with this: get tough. Keeping the roof over your head is a remarkably powerful incentive to deal assertively with the klutzes and chancers of this world.

As a judge in the Napster case remarked, just because something is easy to do, it doesn't mean it isn't illegal. To which I'd only add, anyone stealing images from me is effectively taking money from my wallet. Never mind the legal arguments, it's morally indefensible.

Good grief, this is depressing! Quick, let's move on... :)


Well Seb, Just to cheer you up in my AIPS mag (you are a member aren't you?), a survey of 150 sports photographers was conducted. It was found that in many countries the photographer is not a respected graphic reporter. Professionals agree that the main problem is precariousness of work (36.8%), poor renumeration (18.8%), stress and excessive schedule (15.9%) and infiltration (11.5%). Feel good? Well how about this: Some 76% of photographers consider their work unstable. It's not confined to photography though, musicians are in the same boat.

Which is crap considering my only other skill is drumming!

Have a nice day.

Seb Rogers

Hi Geoff,

The only thing that surprises me about those figures is that some of them aren't higher (inflitration only 11.5%?)

The trouble is, no-one wants to hear photographers whingeing. Looked at from outside, it's a pretty cushty number. Being paid to wave expensive cameras around? How hard can it be, really?

Pro photograhers have a PR problem there, and I doubt it's going to be solved anytime soon.

None of which means I don't agree with you :)

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