How to copyright and image [From Experts]

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Last updated : Sept 20, 2022
Written by : Santa Kobrin
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How to copyright and image

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How to copyright and image

Comment by Kacy Grabauskas

US copyright law protects all original expressions including images such as photographs paintings drawings and even computer graphics copyright protection begins the moment to capture an image in tangible form whether this is on paper on a canvas or in a computer file however there are specific advantages to registering your copyright with the government the first and biggest advantage to registering a copyright for your image of the United States is the monetary value of damages if you sue someone for infringement attorneys fees and statutory damages are available only to people who have registered a copyright for their image additionally a person has the right to sue someone in federal court if you have a register to copyright lastly an official registration will put the world on constructive notice of your copyright and typically registered copyrights never lose an infringement lawsuit you could file an application to register your copyright either online via the US copyright offices website or by mailing a paper application the Copyright Office will then issue a certificate of registration once it receives your completed application along with the filing fees and copies of the image a single application can also have multiple images attached to it that you wish to copyright before filing a lawsuit one should consult an experienced copyright attorney as there are several defenses to taking someone's copyrighted image with the growing age of the Internet the government has attempts to balance the interests of encouraging the free flow of data while still rewarding the creators of new art

Thanks for your comment Kacy Grabauskas, have a nice day.
- Santa Kobrin, Staff Member

Comment by megakS

now let's get into something that photographers talk about all the time but oftentimes do nothing about copywriting your work everyone is talking about who owns this and I have my rights and people might have taken this from me you can clear all of that up by copywriting your work with the Library of Congress now what is copyright copyright is your ownership of the imagery that you make when is an image copyrighted from the moment you take it but what I think a lot of photographers would be shocked to know that even though you have the copyright because you were the image creator that does not afford you the legal benefits of statutory damages and legal fees from someone who you try to go after if they stole your image now by stealing your image that's called an infringement infringement really is when someone uses your image without your authorization now there's two different kinds of infringement there is innocent infringement and there is willful now if you copyright your work the courts have already put together statutes of how much money you can get willful caps out of a hundred and fifty thousand dollars of damages per image a regular infringement only goes up to thirty thousand now how do you prove if something is a willful copyright infringement the best way starts with you to tag your imagery as copyrighted how can you put a copyright on your work you can put it up in your image title you can put it into your cameras almost every one of the cameras now you can put in ownership information as well as every image editing software has this capability Photoshop Lightroom capture one I'm not going to tell you which software you need to use because all of them offer it I have a batch option to put copyrighted notice on every single one of my images as I'm ingesting them and as I'm renaming them but the most important thing is to actually put in metadata attach it to each of your images someone can claim innocence saying I didn't know that it was copyrighted there was no way for me to know so if you put the copyright information in the title of the image or in the metadata it makes it much more difficult for them to claim innocence so you found someone who has infringe upon your work and you're the copyright owner because you took the picture but you've never registered it with the Library of Congress where does this leave you let's say you have an image of a girl walking down the beach holding the hand of a child that image is then taken from the internet and used for a resort now the onus is on you to determine how much money has that resort made directly from that image how much money have you lost based on them using that image and has it devalued the image at all so determining those three things is a very complicated mess and especially on the side that you have to find out how much they made directly from that image what do you do reach out to the same resort who infringed upon you who you're saying you want money from to say I need all your data saying how many times did someone click on that page did anyone ever click on that image how much money directly resulted in someone paying you to book a room at that resort how much money did you make from the alcohol sales from those people you understand that it's a rabbit hole one thing to another to another to another and each time your lawyer has to request from their lawyers to get that information this can drag out months years and all of a sudden your lawyer fees are astronomical and you are fighting a resort a corporation who has a lawyer on retainer the second part you have to prove how much value it is to you and if you haven't sold images for stock or resold images and you just put it up on your Flickr page you don't necessarily have a quantifiable dollar amount of how much that image is used myself I have resold images so what I have used in infringement cases is previous sales of images of that image or similar images and how much people tend to pay me for those licenses that helps establish my value third you have to quantify the damages to your business that they stole this image and how it hurts you the image can be used for something to associate it with a brand or a culture that you don't want it associate it with it could become a mean it could go viral and your image will never have a commercial value again because anyone who ever thinks about it thinks about that mean how do you quantify that how do you put a dollar amount on that it's really difficult so the simple solution to all of this it's if you copyright your image with the Library of Congress you are afforded legal leverages and legal rights that solve all of the things we just talked about let's talk about the benefits you copyright an image with the Library of Congress and you do so before any infringement or 90 days after that infringement has happened and you will be afforded the legal rights of the US copyright law what are these rights what are these benefits first you don't need to establish the value of your image or the value that they receive from using that image it's gone to statutory damages which means a judge issues a statutory fee based on the fees that you asked for in your lawsuit and that is what is awarded and that is what they are liable for what are those fees look like it's up to a judge to award those reasonable fees to you based on what you had asked for in the lawsuit statutory damages on non willful infringement go from seven hundred and fifty dollars to thirty thousand dollars that cap at thirty thousand for non willful infringement now if they willingly infringed on your work which again as long as you've made it abundantly clear on your imagery that it is copyrighted that is a willful infringement or indication of willful infringement that can go up to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars that's where it caps out so how do you say well they willfully infringed it if you go and find the image they have on their site and it has no metadata any longer embedded into it you can make the claim that they strip the metadata from it before they put it up on their site if there's a watermark that they cropped out or removed or if they took and change the name to get rid of the copyright notice in the title they have willfully infringed on your work this is a goldmine most photographers are afraid to put work out in a bunch of different avenues because they're afraid people are gonna steal it and reuse it and they're losing money and losing business if you copyright your work in a timely fashion before you publish it on any websites including your website Flickr anywhere that you may post an image you have the right now to go collect money from people and this is a legit revenue stream for a photographer another huge benefit of regice during your work with the Library of Congress is that you have the right to get your legal fees compensated by the person who stolen infringed upon your work on the flipside if you have not copyrighted your work with the Library of Congress you have to cover the legal fees that draw out from trying to figure out the value that really is the cumbers

Thanks megakS your participation is very much appreciated
- Santa Kobrin

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