Copyright your photos
Whether you're uploading photos to Facebook to share with your family or using your kiddos as models in your blog photos, "in the U.S., photos are automatically copyrighted as soon [as] you take it on your iPhone or other camera," explains Elizabeth Potts Weinstein, EPW Small Business Law PC (www.elizabethpw.com). "However, if you want to be able to sue someone or get statutory damages, then you must register for a copyright in the U.S. Copyright Office. It's pretty simple to file online at copyright.gov — and if you file online, the fee is $35 per photo."
Check the privacy settings
While the only way to truly keep photos of your kids from falling into the wrong hands is to keep them off the internet, keeping your photos from going viral oftentimes depends on the privacy settings you set. Be sure to set limitations on who can see your photos, like friends of friends or restrict your friends from sharing, to minimize the exposure your cute kid's portrait will get.
Read the fine print
"When you want to post your pictures on a social media site," warns Ruth Carter, MS, JD (www.carterlawaz.com), "be sure to check the site's terms of service to see if that gives the site permission to use your pictures without having to ask your permission." However, it doesn't mean you're giving up rights to the photo all together. "When you upload it to Instagram or another social media website," explains Weinstein, "you give them a license to use it, but you still own the copyright." So, before you share photos of your kids on your website, blog, Facebook page or other social media site, be sure you take time to read the site's terms and conditions.
Avoid identifying information
Even when you take the utmost care when sharing photos of your kids, you can further protect the tales your photos tell by being mindful of the information contained within the photo itself. Just in case your images get more attention than you intended, consider avoiding posting any photos that contain signs of the city in which you live, shirts that show the school your youngsters attend or even awards that give your child's full name or more.
Watermark your photos
An easy way to make it difficult for other people to use your photos is to add a watermark to your pics before you share photos of your kids, even on Instagram. Simply use a photo editing program to drag a copyright notice or blog or company name on the photo before posting it to sites like Facebook. To make sure all of your bases are covered, especially when it comes to blog photos or website images, "it's also smart to place a copyright notice on your blog or website so the world knows you are claiming copyright in the photographs," advises Tamera H. Bennett (www.createprotect.com). "The notice could read (c) 2013 Mommie Jane Doe."
For more guidance on how to protect your kids' digital photos online, visit www.copyright.gov before you share photos of your kids on a Facebook page, Instagram account, website or blog.