The web has opened up an entirely new legal battleground. While the American Bar Association (not the drinking kind) is probably pleased, it becomes an important item that must be considered by anyone, not just a photographer, before publishing any content on the internet.
I'll make this simple. I own these images. You can view them on your screen. That's it. Plain and simple. If you do anything else with these images then you are breaking the law. There, now who needs a lawyer!
In reality it is more complicated than that. If you want to print a page from my site and show it to someone else so they can come see my pictures, I don't really have a problem with that. If you print a picture from my site and use it to advertise your business, well, that I have a problem with. See the difference? One use benefits me, the owner of the image. The other benefits someone else. If you want to use one of my pictures to advertise your business, by all means, let's talk. That's what this site
is for, after all.
Does that mean that you can take one of my images, crop it, rotate it, invert it, color it, or do something that makes it your own image? No. That is considered a derivative work, and it's not legal either. (For more on derivative works, take a look at what the US Government has to say using the links at the bottom of this page.) You can look at one of my images, drive to Utah, get up at 4:30 am,
drive out to Canyonlands, hike to Mesa Arch, and attempt to duplicate one of the
images from my site. That's legal.
So that explains why the smaller images on my site are "clean" and the larger images have a copyright notice on them. Larger images are more likely to be useful to someone that might be tempted to take them without my permission. It's like engraving a social security number on every piece of sterling silver that you own... it makes the sterling less attractive, but also much less likely to be stolen. And more likely to be recovered if it is stolen.
If you absolutely feel the need to steal a copy of one of my pictures off of my web site (and that's what it is, you know, stealing) then I thought that you should meet my "enforcer". This is what he looks like when he's happy; you don't even want to see what he looks like when he is mad...
So, do me (and yourself) a favor. Look at the pictures. Please enjoy the pictures. Feel free to tell other people to come here and look at the pictures. But don't try to take the pictures. Yes, it's easy. Yes, you can. But don't.
The following links on US Copyright law point to pages provided by the US Copyright Office
US Copyright Office Home Page
US Copyright Office FAQ
What is copyright?
Derivative Works (requires Adobe Acrobat PDF reader)
And to debunk several common arguments on why something is not protected by copyright if you put it on the internet, here is an article on
by Brad Templeton, one of the pioneers of internet content and a founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.