THIS past week I found out that a local publication used some of my photos without my consent. I was quite upset, as you can imagine.

It is quite sad to find that professional publications do not know that the moment you create something you have immediate copyright.

For example, when a photographer clicks the button on his camera or even iPhone, or the moment an artist applies paint to a canvas the copyright is owned by that artist or photographer.

There are some exceptions, but they are very scarce.

Copyright is an automatic right and does not require the author to have to file special paperwork as is the case for patents or trademarks.

One of the rights that you have with a copyright is that you have the right to display your works publicly.

This includes the internet. By doing so, you do not lose your copyright.

Those images you find on Google are mostly copyrighted. Just because you can find them on Google does not mean that you have the right to use them. Make sure of the licences before using the images. There are many images available online that you can use legally under Creative Commons.

Publishers should think about it this way. Would you like it if someone republishes your work without your consent and without crediting you for the work?

It is vital to always credit the source of anything you use and also get permission.

I think the most important thing for photographers or writers to take from this is that you need not be afraid of the internet and the sharing of your intellectual property, you do retain the copyright.

Publishers, please remember that you need to be sure to respect copyright just as you expect your consumers to respect your copyrights.