Best Practices for Posting Images and Video

  1. Decide why you are considering posting your images or video on a social networking site. Do you want a sample of your work to reach the largest possible audience for free? Are you trying to advertise your most prized photographs in the hope of selling prints? Would you mind if people made unauthorized copies? Would you mind if they repurposed and reused your video content?
  2. After determining why you want to post your images or videos, read the Terms of Service (TOS) for the site. Make sure you have a good understanding of what the company and other users are legally permitted to do with your media. Also, remember that most sites reserve the right to make changes to their TOS, so you want to revisit the TOS as appropriate. Look at other policies, such as the Privacy Policy and the Community Guidelines (which covers permissible and prohibited types of content) to see if they are relevant.
  3. Browse through the site to get an idea of its functionality. Are there settings you can choose which will provide you with some control over who sees your images? Are there settings you can choose which provide roadblocks to the easy copying of your original images or videos? View work posted by other photographers and see if it is possible to copy the photos and at what quality. Find out if there are ways to track who is seeing or copying or reposting your posted digital media. For example, Vimeo and YouTube are constantly tweaking and updating their services, so keeping current with their offerings may be helpful. You might also consider premium packages, such as Vimeo Plus, which involve additional tools or services for a fee. These tools can help you evaluate the effectiveness of posting your work on these sites.
  4. After reading the TOS and understanding the functionality of a site, including any attempts to provide copy protection, decide whether you have chosen the right social networking site. Every site handles these issues differently, sometimes markedly so. If you aren’t sure about it, consider other sites before making your networking selection.
  5. Once you decide that you want to post your digital media, we recommend embedding each image with copyright, contact, and other information. This can be done in Photoshop. However, you should know that some sites, such as Facebook and MySpace strip that information as a result of the software they use to manipulate and post files. You might also want to consider adding an identifying watermark to your images or include identifying information at the beginning or end of your videos. If one of the reasons you are posting images is to use the site as a marketing tool, then providing an identification that stays with your work is critical. Others might have the right to repost images or have the ability to copy and share your work on other sites or distribute via e-mail. If the image goes viral, you want your name attached to it.
  6. If you don’t want people to have copies of high quality images, you can also consider posting only small, low resolution versions of your work.
  7. If you become aware of misuse of your images or videos, contact the site and begin the procedure described in the site’s copyright violation policy. If warranted, take legal action.