How to Know a Photo is Copyrighted?

How to know a photo is copyrighted; Identifying Copyrighted photo; copyrighted picture; copyright violation; and many more information.

How to Know a Photo is Copyrighted?

How to know a photo is copyrighted or not is a critical question; there is a whole lot of pictures available on the web and some of them are protected by copyrights while the rests are not. In, we are repeatedly told not to use even a single copyrighted picture. Nevertheless, since most of us do not know which is a copyrighted picture and which is not a copyrighted picture, we eventually often end up in submitting copyrighted pictures in It is, therefore, quite necessary to know the process of identifying copyrighted photo.

What is Copyright?

Copyright can be defined as an exclusive authoritarian right of the creator over the creations to be the only rightful master and distributor of the same. Copyrights last for a certain period of time, which differs according to the subject material and the individual laws of the countries when the law is applicable. A 1709 statute called An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned, popularly known as the Satute of Anne, was perhaps the beginning of the copyright laws. In the last century, the concept of copyright came under the umbrella term of intellectual property. If someone unduly copies or reproduces any part or whole of such intellectual properties, it will be marked as copyright violation and the person who committed copyright violation will be penalized as par the laws.

Which are Copyrighted Photos?

There are billions of photos available on the web; some of them are copyrighted photos and posting those photos in will be a copyright violation. Avoid the following photos for your own sake:

1. Photos with watermarks. They are always copyrighted.

2. Logos and Header pictures of any website. Those also are always copyrighted. For example, one can nowhere reproduce the logo of without receiving prior permission from the webmasters.

3. Maps, globes, charts, diagrams and technical drawings are mostly copyrighted. It is advisable not to post them. If you need to download any such images from the web and use as an attachment, it will better that you acknowledge your borrowing (in an endnote or bibliography or so).

4. Apart from the photo galleries and downloadable pictures of the official websites of any product / company / organization, the photos that are tucked into the corners of the main texts are mostly copyrighted. It is better to avoid them. Instead, use secondary sites, sites reviewing the product and the like. For example, the official site of Product A is; you should avoid posting pictures of Product A from that site since those may be subject to copyright and if you post them in TamilSpider, you will be subject to copyright violation. Now, if that Product A is reviewed in sites like or and so on, you can can use the pictures of Product A from those sites as those will not be copyrighted pictures.

5. Photos with an extra bit of animation and decoration. For example, someone took a picture of the Nilgiri Mountain Railways, put a coloured border to the photo, and published it in his or her blog. You cannot reproduce such photos as these will be copyrighted pictures.

Which are not Copyrighted Photos?

Usually, the following kinds of photos are not copyrighted:

1. Photos of public buildings (buildings where people can go) unless prohibited.

2. Photos of parks, and art works publicly displayed in the parks and streets. For example, you do not need any permission to post the photograph of the Kannagi Statue.

3. While writing a review, critique, news report and so on, you can use most of the photos for academic purpose; nevertheless, such articles still cannot have watermarks, header pictures and logos.

4. Incidental photos. Suppose, Sculpture A is copyrighted; you cannot post pictures of Sculpture A or sell it and so on. But, if you are trying to shoot or post the photo of a public gathering around it, the sculpture itself becomes secondary (please note that the title of your post must emphasize on the public gathering first and then the sculpture name or so as secondary locations). These are called incidental photos and posting such photos will not be a copyright violation.

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Author: Vimal12 Dec 2010 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

Hi Kumaraditya,

Nice and very informative article for the members, specially for the new ones.

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