Copyright & Plagiarism – What it all means

Posted by on Mar 19, 2010 in Musings | One Comment

This is an article I originally wrote in 2010 on my previous blog. I felt it timely to re-visit this topic, and update it with some more details. Please feel free to share this article by linking above, or pinning the image included below. Thank you!


In layman terms, any photograph created by a Photographer is copyrighted under that Photographer’s name. If you are a client that HIRED that photographer for your shoot, the photographer still owns the copyright – unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Secondly, please get yourself educated about copyright laws. As a Photographer, ALL work you create is copyrighted under your name. To further protect yourself and works of art, register individual or groups of images with the US Copyright office.

While we do our best to protect our images with watermarks, and copyright notifications, images do and will get be stolen at some point or another. If you have found someone using your images without your knowledge or consent, here is a simple run-down of what you can do to address the situation

What to do when someone has stolen your images,
– First, take a deep breath, then document everything. Take a screen shot of the website, write down the URL, save copies of the violation, etc.
– Research the website, person, and assess the situation. Is this person just sharing your images on a blog post about their favorite inspiration? Are they aware where the images are from? How are they using them? Are their selling their product with YOUR images?
– Contact the owner of the website with a BRIEF and CONCISE email stating where the images are being used, and asking them to be removed. Give a deadline – before you pursue legal action. If you don’t have an attorney, join PPA for the best photography related legal advice. Leave the emotion at the door.
– DO NOT start posting their website on twitter, Facebook, and bashing them publicly. Unless you strongly believe that other images are stolen on the same website and you need to inform the masses.
– If in the case you believe that many images are stolen you can submit to Photo Stealers to help spread awareness and contact the other infringed parties.
– Breathe, and go for a walk. Let it go. You’ve done what you can, and you’ll just need to wait for a response, or for the perpetrator to remove the images.

Most importantly, Choose your battles wisely.


This is another touchy subject, but something I have seen come up more and more. Anytime you have written something in your own words, you own the copyright to that text. If another person comes along and copies those words, parts of those words, or even takes sentences and re-orders them and changes up a few things – that is Plagiarism.

In many cases authors have written content in their own words and unique “voice” or “style”. I know there are only so many ways to phrase specific things, but authors have put together their thoughts in their own unique way. Copy/Pasting or taking chunks of text and working it in to your own content is never okay.

If you find yourself doing any of the following – please stop. Your actions are illegal and subject to copyright infringement and/or plagiarism:
* Re-wording, re-arranging, copy and pasting, removing text, adding your own text, etc.
* Putting together a sentence or paragraph from found text
* Using another Photographer’s pricing structure, package names, and/or other details that are unique to their business

If you have to question yourself about your actions, you are probably in the wrong. Copying and/or re-wording another author’s works is only doing YOU a disservice. You will get caught. It will hurt your business. The benefits to writing something in your own words allow you to learn and understand the WHY behind your business, and will teach you invaluable lessons about yourself and your own unique “voice”. If you are feeling stuck, take some time to research and learn about your business and the “voice” you would like to portray. Still feel stuck? Hire someone to write something unique for you, study some writing techniques or purchase pre-made templates that you have permission to use.

If you are really inspired by a particular Photographer or author, consider reaching out to them. They may be able to offer you help or advice with your business, or the possibility to mentor you. I call that a win-win!

When in doubt, ASK first. ALWAYS credit, or link back – when sharing your favorite images or text on your website.

If you find yourself victim to Plagiarism, follow the same steps as outlined above when dealing with Copyright theft.

This is just a friendly reminder to PROTECT works of art, and to look out for your fellow peers. Keep an eye out for these things, and do what you can to protect your images. There’s being careful and being crazed about copyright. I believe we are so fortunate to live in an age when information can so easily be shared, and help get our names out there. Just be smart and calm about it, and if anything, remember to choose your battles wisely. Let’s support each other and spread positivity!!

Have additional questions about this article? Want me to add additional advice? Please shoot me an email xoxo!

Copyright and Plagiarism - What it All Means by Michelle Moore
Behind-the-scenes photo courtesy of Julia Kinnunen

One Comment

Comments are closed.