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
If you’re looking to make money from your photography, it’s important to have the correct legal forms signed by the correct people, whether it’s releases by models that pose for you or contracts with gallery owners who will sell your work. To get you started in figuring out what your contract needs to say, legal contract service Docracy offers samples of some of the most common and important legal forms that photographers use.
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
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.”
As you make your way to polling places today to cast your votes, you might want to look into your state’s laws before pulling out your camera and snapping photographs inside your voting booth. Certain states have pretty strict laws with regard to snapping and sharing photographs of ballots. Earlier this year, Wisconsin election officials specifically warned voters that sharing photos of ballots on Facebook or Twitter is a Class I felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10K fine.
Yesterday we reported that Nikon Photo Contest is no longer accepting film photos starting this year. Turns out it’s not the only prestigious photo contest with rules that are causing some discussion. Check out what National Geographic Photo Contest 2012 says under the rules section “Who May Enter”:
Contest is open only to individuals who have reached the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence at the time of entry and who do NOT reside in Cuba, Iran, New Jersey, North Korea, the Province of Quebec, Sudan, Syria or Vermont. Employees of National Geographic Society, and its subsidiaries and affiliates [...] CONTEST IS VOID IN CUBA, IRAN, NEW JERSEY, NORTH KOREA, THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC, SUDAN, SYRIA, VERMONT AND WHERE PROHIBITED.
Iran and North Korea? Those are understandable… but New Jersey and Vermont? Turns out there’s a pretty simple answer for those states as well: state laws.
The National Press Photographers Association announced this week that it will be joining a major lawsuit filed against NYC and the NYPD for civil rights violations during the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Donalee Moulton over at The Lawyers Weekly has an article describing how EXIF data is beginning to be accepted as valuable evidence in courtrooms — at least in Canada:
Traditionally, a photograph was a picture of one point in time. It could only tell what someone was doing, or not doing, at a particular moment on a particular day. What came before or after was unknown. This uncertainty meant that even what appeared to be a damning image had little value as a piece of evidence because there was no context [...]
Digital photography does not pose the same problem. In some cases, the metadata are enough to counter the snapshot argument by demonstrating that an activity was performed repeatedly or for a lengthy period [...]
Apparently judges are considering EXIF data to be relevant in personal injury lawsuits, in which photos could “prove” that the plaintiff isn’t too injured or depressed to function properly. Hopefully the courts are aware of how easily EXIF data can be faked.
Smile, You’re on Metadata [The Lawyers Weekly]
Thanks for sending in the tip, Phil!
Image credit: More Exif Info configuration by mortimer?, Courtroom One Gavel by Joe Gratz
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.
Here’s an interesting piece of photo trivia for today: did you know that Apple’s similarities with Kodak don’t end with Steve Jobs modeling his career and his company after Polaroid? The ongoing dispute between Apple and Samsung is strikingly similar to the battle Polaroid had with Kodak many decades ago.