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The Benefits of Officially Registering Your Photo Copyrights with the US Govt

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Judy L. Thomas over at the Wichita Eagle has a piece on why some photographers should spend a little extra time and money to register photos with the US Copyright Office, even though photographers own the copyright to photos the moment they’re created:

“I usually equate copyright registration to an approximate $35 insurance policy,” said [attorney] Tammy Browning-Smith [...] “Should something go wrong and someone takes your work, it allows you to be able to collect attorney’s fees, enhanced damages and the like.”

Registering a copyright is “painless and quick,” Browning-Smith said. To do it, go to the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov and fill out the form. It costs $35 for online registration of a basic claim and $65 to register a group of photographs. It takes up to 2½ months to get an application processed, according to the agency’s website [...]

“If you register before any kind of infringement, you get access to the federal courts, but you also get access to statutory damages,” [law professor Andrew] Torrance said. “So instead of having to prove you’ve suffered actual damages, like for example the cost of the photographer, with statutory damages you just need to convince the court that you’re on the high end of the damages and you can get a tremendous amount of money.”

Personal pictures become fodder for legal fights in digital age [The Wichita Eagle]


Thanks for sending in the tip, Chris!


Image credit: Copyright Office Hearing Room by naypinya