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
Getting your work copied, ripped off and/or stolen is a sad reality in the digital age. In fact, earlier this year we shared a website dedicated to ousting copycats and were shocked at how much copyright infringement was really out there. But where finding your work on another “photographer’s” website would be startling enough, how would you feel if you found it while browsing a major art show?
That’s exactly what happened to artist Jason Levesque this last weekend. While walking around Art Basel in Miami Beach, Levesque noticed that three of the pieces presented by the Robert Fontaine Gallery looked a bit more than familiar.
One of the big stories in the tech world at the moment is Facebook’s effort to do away with its public voting system for approving changes to the service’s policies (yup, Facebook is a democracy). Pranksters are taking advantage of the controversy to stir up some FUD among Facebook users. One of the things that has been circulating over the past few days is a bogus “chain letter” that people are posting as status updates, believing that their photograph copyrights are at risk. The message is spreading like wildfire — many of you have likely seen it already — but there’s one big problem: it’s all a complete hoax.
Earlier this week we reported that it is now easier for photographers in the UK to pursue copyright infringement cases without having to shell out big money for a lawyer. While that law change is likely a big boon for photographers, there are other proposed law changes that have some photographers up in arms.
Photographers based in the UK now have an easier and cheaper legal path to take if they discover someone infringing upon their copyrights. Chris Cheesman of Amateur Photographer writes that photographers can now receive do-it-yourself justice without having to hire a lawyer:
Intellectual property disputes can now be resolved using the ‘small claims track’ in the Patents County Court (PCC), following a Government announcement of a ‘simpler and easier’ system last month. Photographers can pursue damages for breach of copyright, for up to £5,000, without even appointing a solicitor, unlike before where they may have been put off by a potentially long, and expensive, legal fight.
Furthermore, the damages limit may rise to £10,000 under Ministry of Justice proposals, possibly as early as next year. Crucially, under the new system, photographers can avoid the prospect of a lengthy court battle and the fear of having to pay the legal fees of the successful party if they lose.
Apparently the US Government is currently looking into doing something similar.
Photo Copyright Boost Set to Open Online ‘Floodgates’ [Amateur Photographer via Photo.net]
Image credit: Photo illustration based on 365:11:9 Gavel by easylocum
One of the big stories in the tech world this weekend was a policy brief published by the Republican Study Committee titled “Three Myths About Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix It,” which people called “shockingly sensible” and a “watershed” paper. However, just one day after it went up, the paper suddenly vanished.
Photographer Jessica Nichols‘ most popular photograph on her Flickr account (above left) is titled “Loads of Ranunculus” and has more than 10,000 views. Nichols got a nasty shock a year ago when she discovered that American fashion designer Chris Benz had apparently turned the photo into numerous clothing designs for his Spring 2012 line, without Nichols’ knowing and/or permission. Since July of this year, Nichols has been fighting against the infringement in an attempt to get the designer to pay up.
A big win for photographers in Canada: as of today, you now officially own the copyright to all your photographs regardless of whether they were commissioned. The development comes as a result of Canada major copyright reform bill (Bill C-11) taking effect this morning. One of the stated goals of the new copyright law is to, “give photographers the same rights as other creators.”
Copyright infringement of photographs is anything but uncommon in this Internet age, as countless images are published all across the web every day without the owners’ consent. The problem is so widespread that virtually everyone gets away with it. The ones that don’t, however, are occasionally in for a good deal of pain.
Case in point: the viral-content aggregation site BuzzFeed is currently being sued for $1.3 million by a photo agency after publishing nine — that’s right, nine — of the agency’s photographs of celebrities.
Apple is constantly engaged in its fair share of courtroom battles, but its latest one hits a little closer to home for photographers. Swiss photographer Sabine Liewald has filed a lawsuit against Apple for using her “Eye Closeup” photograph to promote the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s Retina Display.