When students ask about copyrighting their images, I refer them to Flickr. There is so much information online as to who owns what and how to protect your images, that it can get very confusing.
Flickr is one of the best sites to showcase your work and stay protected. They are open and honest and actually have a resource on their site to explain what options photographers have when putting their work online. They also have a dedicated page to explain the Creative Commons license and it’s options. It is a simple, one page resource that ups their credibility, engenders trust and sets a level of online integrity that few Social media sites can match.
Here is the link to their Creative Commons page:
What is most interesting is that it keeps a running count of how many photographers have chosen which level of copyright protection. Far and away the most used license options are the:
Attribution-NonCommercial NoDerivs License and the Attribution-NonCommercial ShareAlike License.
These licenses allow the public to share their images without adjusting or editing them. These 2 license options represent 160,000,000 images of the total 249,000,000 images recorded on the site.
These are not your average, run of the mill images. The quality as well as the quantity are astounding and represent some of the best of the best.
I believe that photographers are a sharing bunch, but these statistics on how generous we are were a revelation to me. I believe that when you are honest and generous with your site users, they will feel comfortable enough to reciprocate in kind.