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Copyright Photography: How To Copyright Product Images To Save Yourself From Digital Theft

Copyright Photography

Image creators and photographers are constantly at risk of having their work stolen or abused without permission. According to a 2016 Pixsy survey, 64% of photographers admitted to having personally faced this issue. Despite the prevailing belief that copyright infringements only happens within the field of landscape or portrait photography, even product imagery is not exempted from this.

Protecting your product photography isn’t something you can ignore – it’s an issue that needs to be taken seriously. Copyright protection of these photos is especially important for online stores, who depend on the success of their product images in order to engage customers and boost sales.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your images from digital theft. One of the most effective methods is registering a copyright on your product photos. This process offers photographers a legal right to their work and provides them with certain remedies if their work is infringed upon.

In this article, we’ll discuss what copyright registration is and how to go about registering your product photos.

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What is Copyright?

Copyright protects an author’s intellectual property in a concrete form. It gives the creator of the work exclusive control over how their images are used and shared. In other words, if you take a photo—whether it’s a product or landscape image— you automatically own the copyright to that image. You can then register this copyright with a government agency in order to give yourself additional protection.

Creative ideas, on the other hand, are not protected by copyright. This means that if you have an idea for a product photo, but don’t actually photograph it, someone else can legally do so and use the resulting image as they please. But once that image is created, you can then register the copyright on it and take legal action if someone else uses or steals it.

What is Poor Man’s Copyright?

Although the photographer who captures a photograph retains its intellectual property, registering it to officially assert and defend copyright typically comes with a cost.

The poor man’s copyright provides proof that you were the first to possess the image, preceding any other potential claimants. So, before you publish your photograph, you must consult a notary or mail it to yourself or use any other reliable method wherein the date is shown. This allows you to prove that the work was yours first should another person attempt to use it or claim ownership. This way, they will be unable to prove their authorship of your original content.

However keep in mind that this isn’t a substitute for copyright registration, it will be an added aid if you need to defend your work in court. Either way, there is no guarantee of success if the case goes to trial. This proof may vary in relevance depending on the region, so it is best to speak with a lawyer who can provide you with more precise details.

Copyright form

How to Register Your Copyright

If you’re serious about protecting your product photos, then registering a copyright is the best method for doing so. Here are the different guidelines for copyright registration in various countries.

usa copyright website


  • Visit the US Copyright Office website.
  • Open the Registration menu and select “Register Your Work: Registration Portal.”
  • Sign up for an eCO account today or login if you are already a member.
  • Complete the application to register your work. The standard form is valid for any type of job—be it freelance, team-based, or individual. If you are registering a series of photographs, select either ‘unpublished’ or ‘published’ from the dropdown menu on the registration form and proceed accordingly.
  • Ensure that the work you’re submitting qualifies for the form type. Afterward, simply adhere to the instructions on your screen and complete registration accordingly.
  • Secure your spot by clicking Add to Cart and paying the registration fee. You will receive a confirmation email once you complete your purchase, which is just an acknowledgement of payment; it’s not official registration yet.
  • The following page requires you to submit a copy of your photograph. Please ensure that the file type is accepted by the system before proceeding.
  • To finish your submission, simply upload the required files and click “Complete Your Submission.” Shortly after that, you’ll receive a confirmation email.
canada intellectual property right


Despite the introduction of copyright laws in Canada to protect photographs, it remains a complex area. As such, photographers and organizations such as CAPIC highly recommend that you use contracts alongside copyrighted material registration for additional protection.

Here’s how to copyright photos in Canada.

To begin the application process, you will need to fill out a form on the Canadian Intellectual Property Office website or at your nearest Client Service Center or regional Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Office.

Submitting your application and paying the fee can be done electronically, via mail, or in person; although it is highly recommended to do so online for the most cost-efficient option.

To complete this task, just refer to the step-by-step instructions on your screen. There’s no need to submit a copy of the work – all you have to do is enter in all related details into the form provided.

australia government website


In Australia, your intellectual property is recognized and protected as soon as it’s created. Unlike the United States, though, there isn’t a federal agency where you can register your copyright officially. Thankfully though, that doesn’t take away from the inherent rights of protection automatically given to all creators.

If someone unlawfully uses your photo, you’ll need to prove ownership to make a successful claim. This can be an issue if the case goes to court and there is no proof of who owns the photograph.

To safeguard yourself, written agreements and contracts are essential. It is highly suggested to consult with a lawyer to craft your own agreement or revise the contract offered by the client before signing it. You can also hire an agency to help you manage fee and licensing issues.

copyright uk registration

United Kingdom

In the UK, your photographs are immediately copyrighted upon their creation, and no registration is needed. Hence, it is highly suggested that you get legal counsel to create your own contracts or consult on agreements proposed by a customer or employer.

The Intellectual Property Office is the ultimate source for copyright assistance. With their extraordinary and invaluable Copyright Notice Service, disputes are avoided and clarity is restored in no time.

The disclaimer says that “It’s intended to provide an authoritative, impartial and reliable point of reference”. It’s permissible to provide an ‘orphan work license’ when you are in need of a photograph that has been produced by an unidentified author.

Submitting inquiries is free of charge, and you can use the online form to request copyright protection.

Best Cloud Storage For Your Product Photos

Cloud storage is the perfect solution for product photos, offering convenience and peace of mind to any business that needs reliable storage space and access to their images. With so many options available today, you can find the perfect cloud storage provider for your specific needs and budget.

How to Enforce a Copyright Claim

When you uncover that someone is unlawfully making use of your pictures, it’s time to make a decision on how to proceed.

If the person who misused your photos is not profiting from them and simply lacks knowledge of copyright law, some photographers choose to reach out and request their removal without taking legal action.

On the other hand, if you’re certain that your copyright has been infringed upon and money has changed hands due to someone profiting from your work illegally, it’s time to seek legal counsel. A lawyer can help you build a case and pursue the necessary steps to obtain justice and compensation.

When deciding to pursue an infringement lawsuit, you must determine whether it is more suitable for your case to request statutory damages or seek reimbursement of real damages. If you wish to assert your right to statutory damages, it is crucial that you register a copyright before any infringement occurs or within the first three months after said infringement.

How to Protect your Product Pictures from Being Copied Online?

If you’re looking to safeguard your product photos from unauthorized use, there are a few strategies you can employ. Whether they appear on social media or anywhere across the internet, it’s possible to secure them against theft.

Copyright violation can take a variety of forms, including using it without authorization in another context, creating derivatives from the original work, or worse yet – selling and distributing copies to make money for someone else.

To stay secure, you can combine several of these protection strategies that run the gamut from free to fee-based—some providing more reliable coverage than others.

  • Register the copyright: Registering the copyright is the most foolproof way to protect your product photos from misuse.
  • Add a watermark: Adding a watermark to all of your images before publishing them is an effective deterrent to would-be thieves. Not only does it make it much harder for someone else to pass off your work as their own, but it can also act as a reminder of your copyright ownership.
  • Include metadata: You can also include hidden data within the image to serve as a record of ownership if it is misused in any way.
  • Don’t share high-resolution images: When showing off your work online, consider sharing low-resolution images only. This ensures that no one can access the image at high resolution, and thus cannot reproduce it without permission.
  • Read the terms and conditions of every website where you upload your pictures: Before agreeing to terms and conditions of a website, make sure you entirely understand the content. That way, you won’t agree to loosely-defined copyright policies that could potentially put your photos at risk.
  • Add a disclaimer or the copyright symbol: By including a disclaimer or the copyright symbol inside your product photos, you can make it clear that you do not condone any unauthorized use of your work.
  • Whenever possible, disable right-click options: To keep your images safe from theft, you should disable the right-click option on any website where they are displayed. That way, viewers will not be able to copy or save them without permission.
  • Hire legal protection: In the worst-case scenarios where your product pictures are misused, you can consider hiring legal protection to pursue a proper copyright claim. This can help ensure that any infringement is addressed in a timely and effective manner.
  • Invest in specialized software or enlist the services of a third-party to monitor if your images are being used online frequently: As an added layer of protection, you can also get special software or hire a service to check for the use of your images online regularly. This helps make sure that any misuse is quickly identified and addressed as soon as possible.
  • Get a DMCA protection certificate: If your product photos are used across multiple platforms on the internet, consider getting a DMCA protection certificate. This will protect you from possible copyright infringement while ensuring that those who use your images without permission face the consequences.
  • Try the poor man’s copyright: Although not a foolproof method, you can also try the poor man’s copyright. This involves sending a copy of your work to yourself via mail and keeping it in your possession as evidence if ever needed.

By combining these strategies, you’ll be sure to protect your product photos from any unauthorized use or copyright infringement. You should also educate yourself on copyright law and best practices to ensure your work remains safe. Doing so will help you maintain control over how your images are used while also giving them the protection they deserve.

watermark images

Pixel by Hand Photo Editing Services

Pixel by Hand is a photo editing service specializing in helping photographers protect their product photos. While we specialize in product photo editing and enhancement, we also offer a range of services for copyright protection, including watermarking, adding metadata, creating low-resolution copies, and more.

We also provide photo retouching services for eCommerce product photos, thus making them look more appealing and professional. This includes:

Contact us today to get started with our photo editing services. We will help you protect your product photos and keep them safe from unauthorized use or infringement. Chat with us below to get started with your FREE Trial.

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