Copyright, the Web and SEO

I am constantly amazed at how many people seem to think that in the digital space it is okay to cut and paste other people’s work. They will cut and paste full blog posts written by others onto their site and use photos without the proper permissions, neglecting to credit and link the sources.  I’ve seen this with my students, which results in an immediate ‘0’, but more concerning I’ve seen this in grad students work, grad students who are being paid as editors of online publications. Worse than that I have seen established businesses doing this, even production companies that are trained in copyright law and will threaten legal action the second anyone shares their video content on youtube.  What they don’t seem to realize is pirating other people’s writing and photographs on the web is the same thing.  It is copyright infringement. This is why you need to hire professionals to manage your digital voice and not assume that an intern or your IT person has the skills to be the front line voice for the company in the digital space.

To put this into book terms, this would be like somebody stealing a whole chapter of someone else’s book and sticking it into their book.


Hard at Work Coming up with a Complimentary Solution


Not only is it copyright infringement and shows you lack all creativity, but it also dings you with search engines.  Search engines, like Google, discount your site when they find duplicate material elsewhere on the web. So it does not pay to cut corners in this way.

Professional Photographer, Ralph Velasco photographing Dan & Audrey of Uncornered Market in Egypt

Now if there does happen to be a post by another organization or individual on the web that you wish to draw eyes to on your site, here is how to do it, to be complimentary, meet copyright law and prevent getting blacklisted by search engines:

  1. Write an original introduction of your own introducing the blog article you want to highlight;
  2. Share a quote from the blog article you wish to highlight;
  3. Post a link to the original blog article you wish to highlight; and
  4. End the post with some original writing of your own.

The same goes for photographs.  If the photo you wish to share on your site does not have the Creative Commons license on it, ask the photographer’s permission, credit and link them, and compensate them for it’s use. If it does have a Creative Commons license on it, then you still need to credit and link the photographer, preferably to their professional site.

Remember quality content takes time to create and it needs to be respected and credited.  You wouldn’t want your content pirated, so don’t pirate the content of others.



Photo Editing for the Interactive Audience

Alyzee Lakhani on Spanish Banks beach, shot for Ahimsa Media.

Caption accuracy and editing used to be the main tasks us photographers had to focus on following a shoot.  Today that has all changed.  With a multitude of platforms to display our photographs, most freelancers now have to get to grips with internet distribution too, on sites like photoshelter, flickr and stock agencies.  As a result intelligent and extensive keywording has become a vital tool.

My newspaper background means that I have always been most at home with the new agencies for any sales beyond a newspaper or magazine.  I, like many British press photographers, have many photographs listed with Alamy, yet as my client list widens so do the places I display my work, and with that I have found my workflow techniques evolving.

Everyone has their own process of editing using different software, be it the camera’s e.g. Nikon Browser, professional e.g. Adobe Lightroom or computer based e.g. iphoto.  I use Adobe Lightroom and have found it is a great time saver for multi-use captioning and keywording, as well as embedding photographer information into your images prior to editing.

However it was not until I uploaded our coverage of the 2010 Yorkton Film Festival to flickr that I discovered just how much time can be saved by properly preparing your images.  I’ll use Lightroom processes here as an example, but different software has similar options.

When I open up Lightroom 2 and attach a memory card an option box pops up (see below).  It includes a variety of things you can input for the entire photo batch.  In the local newspaper game each download usually involved several jobs so I wouldn’t fill much of this in, bar my copyright information, (which I have pre-programmed) so I would put in minimal keywording or captioning then download the pictures.

A lightroom screen grab of opening page information

This has recently changed when I realised just how much time can be saved by keywording each image prior to upload and to batch keyword jobs initially. One reason for this is that on flickr you must place quotation marks around each phrase longer than one word to tag or keyword and then a simple space between single words.  Whereas, most other systems use the simple comma to separate phrases.  As a result most of us need to continually remind ourselves to use this method, and it can become awkward when cutting and pasting repeating words.

Whereas, in Lightroom you can place your group keywords in that initial download and then easily add individual words whilst editing.  Take for example the image below:

Screen shot of Adobe Lightroom 2, with keywording options open

On the right hand side of the page the panel gives a variety of keywording options.  You have a list of the keywords already attached to the image (from initial download), then a section to add more, and options for the programme to remember past keywords in groups for you.  It allows you to easily click and add without re-typing.  I tend to keep that option on recent keywords, due to my varying shoots.   Below the keywording panel, is also a keyword list, with ALL your past keywords, which can be handy if you forget spellings. Below this is a section detailing your metadata.  The metadata is crucial picture information: copyright information, caption and shooting data.  This can be edited at either the download section, or within Lightroom. You can also input it in Adobe Photoshop.  (I will explain in a further post the importance of metadata in relation to copyright theft and in particular facebook)

I have found that inputting all of this information into Lightroom significantly speeds up my uploads and keeps my files up to date should I wish to use the photos on a different outlet.  It also means that my contact information stays with my image (bar placing on facebook) so if you wish to upload to various sites you do not need to keep typing the same information.

Embedded information is also very useful should you later wish to put the pictures onto a blog, for example using WordPress.  It can help bring further traffic to the site, because the photos keywords are also added to the SEO of the post.