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Christmas Card Photo Turns Up In Czech Storefront

You click into a website or online photo gallery and see all of the photos are watermarked with the signature of the photographer/site owner. Is the first thought that occurs to you that the photographer has a too-high opinion of themselves, or that they are being paranoid about having their work stolen? Maybe , as it turns out, they are just being smart about their online security.

Danielle Smith, who lives outside of St. Louis, found this out the hard way recently. In case you missed the stories on msnbc and other places, here’s the highlights:

Smith posted her family’s 2008 holiday photo, a classic family portrait of her with her husband and two children, on her blog and several other social networking sites.  She didn’t think much about it until she was sent some pictures that had been taken by a college friend of hers while he was traveling in the Czech Republic. The pictures were of her family as pictured on their Christmas card, on display in a Prague store window, being used in an advertisement for the store’s delivery service.

The storeowner said that he thought the picture was “computer generated”, and was cooperative about removing the ad when told the photo was actually of real people. The professional photographer who took the picture is still trying, along with the help of professional photography organizations, to track down how it wound up in use in the Czech Republic when neither she nor the family had given permission to anyone for its use in any manner.

So, now what do you think of people who watermark photos before posting them online? It probably doesn’t sound like such a bad idea anymore, does it? And don’t forget that scrapbook layouts are images too. Some scrapbookers might want to give serious thoughts to watermarking or putting a digital signature on their layouts. Stories of scrapbook layouts that were posted online showing up in places other than where they were originally posted, and with someone else’s name attached to them, are surprisingly common.

If you are thinking you’d like to start watermarking your images, here are some tutorials on how to do it.

Although I have used Photoshop Elements for a long time, batch procedures like watermarking images for online gallery posting are especially easy in Adobe Lightroom (especially if you use the Mogrify plug-in). I started using Lightroom a few months ago after getting my DSLR since it’s superior to Photoshop Elements for processing and organizing RAW files. (Elements is more of a graphic design program, whereas Lightroom is designed for photographers). If you are dealing with RAW files I highly recommend Lightroom. I couldn’t handle my RAW files without it.

If you are a teacher, a student, or a parent of a student, you can do what our family did and purchase Lightroom 2 (MSRP $299) from Academic Superstore for $98.95.

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