I recently had an interesting Twitter discussion with Darren Booth about metadata and protecting artwork online. Darren expressed disbelief at how many illustrators don’t include metadata in their files when posting their work to the web and was wondering if there was something he was missing. My answer—and this is not meant to support not including metadata—was that there was a trend to strip it to make smaller file sizes. As we discussed this more on Twitter, it got me thinking generally about how illustrators can protect their work online and what trade-offs, if any, they sacrifice by doing so.
As an illustrator, copyrighting your work is incredibly important. It provides a number of unique benefits and is relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, it’s also misunderstood by a great number of people. The following highlights some basic information about copyright that every illustrator should know: