Tools to help the small business photographer succeed in the big business world.

The Importance of Copyright Protection

With your busy schedule the last thing you may have time for is registering your images with the copyright office. But it's something you might want to put at the top of your to do list.

Copyright protection for your photos exists the moment the work is created. But in the case of infringement you'll need to have registered your copyright in order to file suit. For this reason it's important to submit your images for copyright registration in a timely manner.

Depending on the turn around time of the publications your work appears in, you will need to consider more frequent submissions. With the Copyright Submission section in fotoBiz 2.0 you can keep track of which images you have submitted to the copyright office.

Registering your copyright with the Library of Congress means that the infringer may be liable for statutory damages to a sum of not more than $150,000, or actual damages and the ability to collect any profits of the infringer that are attributable to the infringement. (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html#502)

Besides protecting your work, registering your copyright makes it easier for a potential infringer to track you down and legitimately obtain a license to use your work, avoiding the hassle of litigation.

A registered copyright on your image can also be of benefit if a client refuses to pay for images they have already been used. The timely and proper registration of your images can be a powerful tool when you are faced with a situation that requires you to enforce your contractual terms with a client.

The following information has been referenced from the Copyright Office website as of the Fall 2007. We have included a few things here for quick reference, but recommend that you also spend some time on the site familiarizing yourself with the process.

We are sending you some important links to help you get started with registering your copyright immediately. It's just like backing up your software. You are so sorry you didn't take the time to do this when there's a problem.

John Harrington has a great article on his blog, Photo Business News. As a DC based photographer he actually visited the LOC and literally took a walk through the copyright office. Check out his step-by-step blog entry at:
http://photobusinessforum.blogspot.com/2007/09/walk-through-copyright-office.html

Copyright Office Website:
http://www.copyright.gov

Copyright Submission Form For Visual Artists (Form VA):
http://www.copyright.gov/forms/formvai.pdf

Published vs. Unpublished: This is an important distinction to make when filing your copyright submissions.

For Published Works:
http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl124.html

For Unpublished Works:
http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl107.html

Quick Reference or Copyright Fact-Sheet Topics:
http://www.copyright.gov/circs/index.html#fl

Frequently Asked Copyright Questions:
http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/

Email a Copyright Question to the Copyright Office:
http://www.copyright.gov/help/general-form.html

Online Submissions: Be on the lookout for the ability to file electronically. Online Beta Testing began summer 07'. Once the testing is complete, the system will be available to members of the general public.

Fees: The current Basic Filing fee is $45. The fee for online submissions will be $35 once the Beta Testing is complete.

Phone Assistance at Copyright Office About Submissions:
Phone: 202-707-5959

Please do take action to protect your copyright now!