In this episode we share how & why to use watermarks, the copyright symbol, & why include ownership information in your work. The traffic, branding, & legal benefits to including copyright ownership information.
If you hear nothing else in this podcast hear this; put watermarks on your content and/or a copyright statement. If you have a mark on every piece of content you put onto Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. you have a branding machine in action. You will drive traffic to your site.
Gathering eyeballs and then directing them down a funnel should be your goal. You want to entice your audience and then take them to another location where they can see more, learn more, and ultimately transact with you or make an action that will allow you to make money.
In that experience and to protect that experience, you need to properly claim ownership of your work. You can do both while satisfying a few legal requirements that could help you now or later.
Let’s back up now. First let’s get the basics covered.
What is a digital watermark?
A digital watermark could be a website address, your unique logo, or information about ownership. Your Instagram or Twitter account could also be a useful watermark. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or huge. Watermarks are typically put on the bottom of a video. If you have ever watched TV you see the station logo and letters come up, that is a watermark.
Photographers should do the same. Some photographers place a transparent mark across the unlicensed images to make sure that if it’s taken, that identification travels. If you are a shooter, you should do this. When content is licensed, the image is then delivered without the mark.
With respect to video content we advise our clients to use floating watermarks. Floating watermarks are simply their URL and it moves from the bottom to the top right to the left back to bottom at certain times throughout the video. The reason for floating watermarks is to make it harder for someone to chop off and claim as their own. It still happens but not as frequently. Now when their video content is taken and used, we can see one or more of the marks as the video plays and more importantly so can end users.
If end users like what they see, a portion of them will type in your URL to check out your website.
✅ Is a watermark going to stop piracy? No.
✅ Will it support you when your content is pirated? Yes.
✅ Will it support you in marketing efforts? Yes.
✅ Can you help you make money? Yes.
There are entire pirate operations dedicated to putting their own watermark on stolen content. They take it and upload it to sites for money. These sites incentivize thieves to get the most popular content onto their network as fast as possible. The pirates make money from the views and from the type in traffic to their URL. When a user lands on their URL they will find advertisements. I share this to show you that,
“if a pirate operation thinks enough of a watermark, it’s something to consider.”
If an infringer cuts your watermark off, you could be entitled to enhanced damages in a legal action. Either way, it’s a good way to display that a person or company knowingly infringed your work by attempting to mislead users as to the rightful owner. It’s a great way to get free traffic.
What is Copyright Management Information (CMI)?
Copyright Management Information or CMI is really just a little more identifiable information. Under the US Law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA there is a section 1202(c) that defines the term copyright management information. I believe that rather than get hung up on all of the details know that certain information will work for you every time to cover what is required for CMI. A watermark can be a form of displaying Copyright Management Information.
Firstly, I would put the name of owner, meaning you or your company into the metadata under owner. For most files you simply right click and put author and title into the properties. Most rendering software allows you to do it before output. That is mostly non visible CMI.
The visible piece could be a small display of text on the top or bottom of the image or video or drawing that has the title, the copyright symbol; that little C in a circle, the year of first publication, and the name of the owner. You don’t have to have a title but its helpful.
An example of CMI would be:
Episode 22, The Copyright & Intellectual Property Podcast
© 2020 Jason Tucker
Why add a watermark and CMI to your content?
If you have these on your work and someone cuts them off, there are legal benefits in a copyright infringement dispute. Its unlawful for anyone to cut off a mark and if they do and you decide to take action, the chopping of your mark displays a bad act.
Second a visible mark allows people to the ability to find you, search you out, go to your site, your account, and experience more of your work.
Without marks, people are left guessing. The traffic then stays on the offending location and you never have a chance to get type in traffic or properly directed attention.
Viral Marketing Happens
Whether you are a writer who puts out a book every few years or an influencer who puts out content hourly or a follower of Gary Vee and his smart tools for making 100 pieces of content per day, you rely on branding. To brand effectively you need identification on your work.
You never know what your most popular content will be!
Since the beginning of the world wide web we have all seen viral sensations. If you have been around you know the Star Wars Kid. Going back in time there was the Dancing Baby, the Oogachacka Baby. Leave Britney alone girl. Maybe you have been Rick Rolled.
In 2012 the K-pop hit Gangham Style exploded and enjoys over 3 Billion views and a boatload of knockoffs. The common theme and point of mentioning is that none of them have watermarks. There is not a single central point to direct back to. These sensations have viewers but no funnel. What they produce are highly entertaining traffic bleeds.
If any of that content had a watermark, a portion of that traffic would be flowing to a place where it could be leveraged.
Does this work?
Yes, it does. We work with news outlets, musicians, filmmakers, and influencers who, on an hourly or weekly basis, gain new attention or make money simply from the act of including a watermark and CMI. Some of our clients have significant residual income that can be directly attributed to the watermarks they put on content from years ago and as recent as yesterday. Again, you don’t know what will hit but you can certainly be guaranteed that if your content is on the internet, it will be seen.
Proof Matters on the Internet:
Identification matters. Proof of ownership matters. One of the reasons I encourage people to register their copyrights with the US Copyright Office is because a registration number is proof of ownership.
are great tools to drive traffic. Watermarks and CMI require little work but
provide great return for years on the internet.
- If an
ethical location wants to use the work, they will contact you to license. They
will know how to find you from the information associated with the work.
- If you
really want to get it all handled, come up with a logo or title that includes
both a URL and in small text, copyright information to cover the Content Management
Information (CMI) requirements.
- I am sure this little act will support you for years to come.
I hope that this helps you as you continue to create and publish your work. Listen to our other podcast episodes for additional tips and tools to support you.
If you have questions or want to share experiences, you can join and post inside of our FREE Facebook group at Intellectual Property HQ Community.
You can follow me on Twitter @IntelPropHQ
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