If you’ve been infringed (and frankly, who wasn’t) there is a big difference on what you can do to the offending party, depending on your registration status. (Well, in the US, at least).
If your photo has been registered with the US copyright office you can claim statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringed work + recover the attorney fees. If your photo is unregistered, you would have to prove damage, so there is certainly an upside for registering your photos with the copyright office.
One of the more common ways was sending a CD over, but this is quite a hussle. A new lightroom plugin – imagerights – aims at integrating copyright registration into your lightroom workflow. (And everything that is integrated into a workflow works better).
The idea is that you can select photos right inside lightroom and send them over to registration with the copyright office. Each batch is limited to 500MB, but you can send as many or as little photos as you want.
Another thing that the plugin does is some magic to your meta data, integrating a link that shows the photo along with its copyright status:
Throughout the registration process, the ImageRights plug-in updates the metadata of the images in Lightroom with the current registration status. Once the certificate of registration is issued by the USCO, the plug-in updates the images with the copyright registration number and registration date. ImageRights also inscribes a URL into the metadata that links to a webpage that displays the image along with its copyright registration information. Since the USCO does not provide a searchable image database, the link provided by ImageRights can be used by photographers, prospective licensees, and infringers to quickly and easily ascertain the copyright registration information
Here is what such an entry looks like:
There are three tiers for the service, which mainly differ in the amount of photos you are allowed to manage (costing about $69 or $89 per Registration, $495 per year or $1,295 per year).
Interestingly, the company also offers copyright infringement case management where they go after whoever is using your photos without authorization (and taking 40%-50% of the recovery), and a discovery service similar to tineye.
Do you register your photos? If so how are you doing it?