At this current time on the web, there is a huge controversy over the fact that Facebook is allowed to use your images royalty free. From the standpoint of a company, that essentially means that what they’re going to do is use it in their own commercials and promotion of their own brand. We highly doubt that Facebook is going to get into the image licensing market lest they run into a massive PR issue.
But this brings up an even bigger issue: knowing your worth.
Ask yourself: is every image that you upload to Facebook something that you’d want in your portfolio?
Let’s raise the stakes a bit more now.
Let’s say that a friend who knows someone got you a recommendation from a large brand, and that brand started to do some research on you but wants to see more of your work. If they check out your Facebook page, would they be pleased with every single image that they see?
For most of us, the answer is no. We’re all guilty of it. This brings us to our overall point in this story.
Before you ever worry about a company stealing your images and using them for their own commercial needs and use, you should be worrying more about producing the work that companies and people want to steal to begin with.
We’re not saying that you don’t have that kind of work. Rather, we’re saying that you should be focusing instead on creating more of that type of work. When you go to put that work on the web, it’s simple enough to take precautions that ensures that the work doesn’t get stolen such as watermarking and downsizing (both in pixels and DPI to prevent printing at larger sizes). In the case that your work does get stolen, you can usually track it down with proper naming and keywording use–providing that you do this to begin with (and you should be since search engines read them.)
The web and image use rights have progressed to the most part that big companies will search out images on the web and then email for use permission. In most cases, they’re looking for some bloke who will be so excited that someone wants to use their image and grant it to them completely free for use. The moment you mention licensing, they usually back off because they don’t want to spend money.
In that case, we’re going to harken back to what Ted Forbes at the Art of Photography said: if a company is using your image and doesn’t want to pay for it, you should question how important the project is to the company. If it’s an important project, then they’ll obviously pony up some money. But if they don’t care about it, you should carefully consider whether or not you want to be affiliated with the project. Adding a big company’s name to your cover letter or resume is nice, but when people actually go to look at the work that you did then no one will care once they see that your work is part of a project that the company didn’t put significant effort into.
In the end, that makes you look worse.
So instead of worrying about whether a company will want to steal your images for their own use, worry instead about creating images that they’ll want to use.