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Author Topic: A retouch client asks for me to remove watermarks from images  (Read 3466 times)

Phil Indeblanc

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A retouch client asks for me to remove watermarks from images
« on: November 12, 2015, 12:44:20 pm »

As a service I provide restore and retouch services.
A client emailed me to remove "Proof" watermark large across 15 images.
He claimed that he owned the images.  What is the legality of this? Can I remove them as a service? Do I need to dig deeper to see how he owns them? Or does his use of them become the legal issue and not the physical removal of the images, or likely both? 

Whats my respopnsibility ?
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tcphoto1

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Re: A retouch client asks for me to remove watermarks from images
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2015, 12:59:30 pm »

I do not know about the legal issues but the ethical issues is what would get me. I would ask for a copy of his Licensing Agreement to confirm his claim. Odds are he's not telling you the whole truth.
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: A retouch client asks for me to remove watermarks from images
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2015, 01:01:56 pm »

I do not know about the legal issues but the ethical issues is what would get me. I would ask for a copy of his Licensing Agreement to confirm his claim. Odds are he's not telling you the whole truth.

+1

I'd ask for proof of ownership/copyright.

Cheers,
Bart
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Phil Indeblanc

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Re: A retouch client asks for me to remove watermarks from images
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2015, 01:52:57 pm »

I did ask for some proof yesterday, and from a fast paced response to my other emails and questions, this last one I asked has yet to get a reply :-)

Yes, I agree about the ethical aspect and that is more important.  Him claiming he owns it is a tough one to accept without any trace.

Looking over all of them now, I just found one of the images he sent for retouch has the name of the photography company that did the work!

It looks like he screen grabbed from the photographers site and missed cropping out the url on the one image :-)

So I just emailed the "client" to help me understand how you own them, and I added that if you don't, to contact the photographer and offer some money to allow you to have them in the low/1080 resolution you need for a family slide show(his original explanation on his needs).  The photographer has no use of the images, so offering him half the cost of what it would take to remove the watermark might get him to let you have them. Tell him to put his watermark on the lower corner of the company name may also help

Lets see if that gets a reply email :-)

Another thing I can do is contact the photographer and ask him what to do :-) ?
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MattBurt

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Re: A retouch client asks for me to remove watermarks from images
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2015, 03:41:02 pm »

I'm on the edge of my seat; can't wait to hear what happens next!

Sounds pretty shady but it seems odd that he would want to pay to get the watermark removed but not pay for the photos.
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DeanChriss

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Re: A retouch client asks for me to remove watermarks from images
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2015, 04:16:16 pm »

I've had watermark removal requests several times over the years. I have never had anyone ask for such a thing who actually owned the image(s).

Not quite the same thing, but a few years ago a woman, probably in her mid 70s, wanted a copyrighted print of a centuries old religious painting reproduced to frame for herself. She was obviously attached to this thing. I don't know where she got the print, but it was high quality and according to text along the border the copyright is owned by the church that owns the original painting. The church is in Europe, the lady and I are in the US. I truly hated to disappoint her, and before I could she produced a recently dated letter on church letterhead and signed by a church official giving her permission to copy the print for her own use. It was the only time I've ever had a request like this that was legitimate.
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Box Brownie

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Re: A retouch client asks for me to remove watermarks from images
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2015, 05:30:41 am »

Surely this should be what I would call a "no brainer" I.e. unless you have explicit permission given to you by the copyright holder you should not make such retouching.

Even if the enquirer shows you such permission to ensure the bona fides of that 'document' a courtesy contact with the photographer IMO would be the right course of action.

Fwiw I was recommended by someone to help a wedding guest (mother of the groom)  with cloning    distracting elements out of a photograph.......I corresponded and talk her on the phone but the foremost thing I pointed out was that I would need written permission from the wedding tog.  This was actually provided but this was a time sensitive requirement and it fell through.
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Phil Indeblanc

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Re: A retouch client asks for me to remove watermarks from images
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2015, 11:14:17 am »

yeah, I have yet to hear from him. He likely will try another source.  I'm not sure if I should go out of my way to call the actual shooter and let him know that someone is requesting such service.

Interesting stuff :-)
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Ellis Vener

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Re: A retouch client asks for me to remove watermarks from images
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2015, 11:30:27 am »

As a service I provide restore and retouch services.
A client emailed me to remove "Proof" watermark large across 15 images.

Ask for a copyright release. It might be the case that the photos were done for your potential client and they are trying to get away with not paying the photographer for prints, or it could be the case that the potential client shouldn't have access to them  i the first place.

Quote
He claimed that he owned the images.

Ask for proof.

Quote
What is the legality of this? ... Do I need to dig deeper to see how he owns them? Or does his use of them become the legal issue and not the physical removal of the images, or likely both? 

Whats my respopnsibility ?

Without a copyright release or usage statement. You definitely open up yourself to a lot of liability. There is plenty of established case law that covers photo labs being successfully sued when they have done this sort of thing.
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