Yes, you own the actual copyright to your work when you create it, but you do not have the full protection of the law unless you register it. That one little [online form] from the copyright office will change your life.
Photographers, if you register your work with the US Copyright Office, hurry up because the fees are about to increase. According to the official announcement, as of 20 March, you will pay more when you apply for copyright protection. And for some applications, the price is going to be up to six times higher than the current one.
Last year, photographer Justin Goldman filed a lawsuit against several publications that featured someone’s embedded tweet with his copyrighted photo. The court ruled that this was, indeed, copyright infringement, so Goldman won the case. Now, he is looking to extend his victory and he is going for a few more news sites and blogs.
From 20 February 2018, the U.S. Copyright Office is implementing new rules that affect the way groups of photos are registered. So, if you register your images with the Copyright Office, there are six changes you need to be aware of.
Italy-based photojournalist Matilde Gattoni recently got the result of her lawsuit against clothing retailer Tibi. Now that the judge has made the decision, it may be of interest for all photographers.
While copyright registration of Gattoni’s photo in the US was still in progress, Tibi changed her photo and posted it on their Instagram page. After she sued for copyright infringement and violation of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the court dismissed the charges of copyright infringement.
I have been using Pixsy for a while now to keep track of copyright infringement of my photography and where possible, pursue payments.
Having worked through the system a few times now, I have identified a number of simple steps that photographers can take to protect their copyright and pursue infringement.
You may or may not care about copyright infringement right now, but there is really no reason not to protect yourself just in case.
Continue reading for my suggested best practices to protect your photography copyright and pursue infringement.
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.
A state public administrator’s office in Chicago, Illinois has issued letters to several individuals in possession of Vivian Maier photographs and negatives, informing them of possible lawsuits they could be facing over any money they earned from selling Maier’s work. Among the recipients of the letter were several galleries and John Maloof, an individual who owns a lionshare of original Maier works with a collection of negatives in the tens of thousands, which he bought for $400.
When Maloof acquired the negatives in 2007, he hired a genealogist to help track down any heirs of the mysterious photographer. He was able to locate Sylvain Jaussaud, whom was considered by experts to be Maeir’s closest living heir as a first cousin once removed. Maloof and Jaussaud reached an undisclosed agreement in which Maloof would assume the rights to the negatives. Maloof then filed an application to register his copyright, which is currently still pending one year after being filed.
Copyright infringement is one of those problems that never seems to go away. It doesn’t seem to matter how well we educate our clients or the general public. Unfortunately, there will always be people–photographers included— who just don’t seem to get it. Clients think that purchasing a photo grants them eternal, all-encompassing rights to whatever they choose to do with our work, wherever they choose to do it. People have it in their heads that just because a photo shows up in a Google Images search, that this somehow makes it open season for use on their websites, newsletters, blogs, and Facebook posts
As photographers, we know that we need to protect our work from all of these varying degrees of infringement. Unfortunately, too many photographers don’t take the relatively easy steps to adequately protect themselves from the unauthorized use of their hard work.