Watermarks are the topic of much discussion in the microstock world. Particularly after two agencies recently updated their watermarks. Let’s take a look at the current state of microstock watermarks.
These example photos have been resized, which alters the appearance of the watermark. Click each photo to see the watermark as it was designed to be seen on each agency website.
What’s the Purpose of a Watermark?
Watermarks balance the dual objectives of protecting the photo from theft and providing a workable view of the photo for potential buyers. If the watermark is too little or too light, it can too easily be removed, making the photo vulnerable to theft. If the watermark is too strong or too heavy, buyers can’t get a good look at the photo to determine whether it meets their needs.
A good watermark achieves theft prevention without being overly distracting to buyers.
Do They Work Well On All Photos?
All watermarks in the above examples protect that photo well. But it’s not always the case. The images below were chosen specifically to highlight deficiencies in particular watermarks.
Again, these examples have been reduced in size, so click the image to see the actual watermark in action on the agency website.
Fotolia have received more criticism than any other agency for their current watermark. Where the subject doesn’t occupy all areas of the photo, the watermark is easy to remove, as you can see in the above examples.
Help is at Hand
- LuckyOliver will adjust the watermark on a per-image basis if you email them and ask nicely.
- Shutterstock provides a facility to re-position the watermark towards the top or bottom of the photo. As you can see below, this saves many photos that would otherwise be poorly protected.
- SnapVillage have recently updated their watermark to provide better protection.
- Fotolia’s current watermark arrived with their infamous V2 upgrade.
I have no supporting evidence, but I can’t imagine too many sales are lost at microstock agencies due to heavy watermarks. However, I have lots of evidence of photo theft due to watermarks being too light. Simplistically, it seems contributors’ interests are better served by heavier watermarks.
Posted October 8th, 2007 by Lee Torrens