Moscow, Russia, 13/06/2011. US Copyright Office registration certificate.
Photo © Jeremy Nicholl 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Some time ago I began registering all my photographs with the US Copyright Office. Like all photographers I’ve witnessed a massive increase of theft of my work in recent years. And like others I’ve found it difficult, if not impossible, to get reasonable compensation for these infringements, especially if the infringer is in a foreign country.

But one country, the US, provides very hefty penalties for copyright theft – so long as the work has been registered prior to the infringement in question. So what would happen if I, a foreigner, registered my work and subsequently found it used without permission in the US? Would US copyright law really provide me with the same protection that it does the country’s own citizens? Last week I got my answer.

In January this year I found one of my photos on a website owned by a major US media company. In February I engaged attorney Barbara Hoffman of the Hoffman Law Firm to handle the matter. Last week the infringer paid a substantial settlement. As is normal in such settlements no party admitted liability. But media organisations don’t usually write five figure cheques without good reason: draw your own conclusions.

However only a tiny percentage of US photographers bother to register their images; virtually no foreign photographers do so. Two reasons are usually given: that the registration process is too complex, and that the cost is too high. Neither of these is true. Since the US Copyright Office began accepting online registrations the process has become both simpler and cheaper. While the system appears intimidating at first, that’s simply because it allows for the registration of so many different kinds of creative works. Concentrate only what applies to photographers, and the process becomes much clearer; and the registration process has pop-up guide notes at each stage. For the truly challenged, both Photoshelter and the Photo Attorney have detailed guides with blow-by-blow screenshots of actual registrations. How hard can it be?

As for cost, online registration is $35 a time, you can register an unlimited number of images in a batch for that fee, and you have 90 days from the moment of exposure to register new work. So simply register your photographs in batches 5 times a year. Cost per annum for complete US copyright protection, $175. That doesn’t sound expensive to me: how much did you say you spent on that new lens?

Foreign photographers like to give a third reason for not registering copyright in the US: why should they have to pay for protection they supposedly already have under the Berne Copyright Convention when the US is a signatory to that convention? As an argument of principle this has some validity, but in practical terms it’s nonsense. You don’t have to register your images: but you’ll be the loser if you don’t.

Based on my experience I can’t think of any good reason why photographers, US or otherwise, should not register their work with the US Copyright Office. Every case is different, and there’s no such thing as 100% protection. But follow these ten rules and you will almost certainly be able to collect substantial damages from any US website or publisher who infringes your copyright.

1. Register your images at the US Copyright Office. The country may be a Berne signatory, but in practice the USA has a dual copyright system: major protection and zero protection. Unregistered images get the latter: lacking the option for punitive damages and legal expenses it’s financially impractical to chase infringers, and they know it. Registered images carry the potential for $150,000 compensation per infringement plus legal costs: so what’s to think about? And make sure you register every frame. As photographers it’s tempting to think that only the “best” images get stolen. But while some images are more likely to be stolen than others the truth is that you have no idea what might catch a thief’s eye. The image in my case was a simple shot of a crowded beach: there are millions like it on the web. But mine came high in a Google search, fitted what the searcher was looking for, so he took it. If an image is good enough for you to keep then it’s good enough for someone, somewhere, to want to steal: so register it.

2. Make your copyright information visible. It’s unnecessary to actually watermark images: a strong watermark wrecks an image, a weak one is easily removed, and neither provides greater legal protection than copyright information immediately adjacent to the image. Your infringer, like mine, will almost certainly try to claim to be unaware of the copyright status of a stolen image. But the placement of my copyright information immediately below my image meant I was easily able to prove that it was impossible for my infringer to have downloaded the image without having first seen that information – even though the image was lifted from Google, not my website.

3. Google Alerts is your friend. Ever hear the one about the burglar who left his driver’s license at the scene of the crime? Incredible as it may seem, my infringing site ran my byline with the stolen image. Perhaps they felt they were doing me favour. Oddly enough, they were: since I have a Google Alert set up for my name Google delivered the culprit handcuffed to my inbox the morning following the infringement.

4. Grab all the evidence. Make screen grabs of the infringing site obviously; but there is a lot more you can do. Download the actual page so you have the source code. Make grabs of your own site displaying the copyright information, and any other site where the image may be viewed: Google search results for example. Check the image metadata on the infringing site: if metadata has been removed – and it will have been – that’s a further offence. Remember: every piece of information is ammunition for the lawyer you’re about to hire.

5. Don’t contact the infringer directly. Did they contact you before heisting your property? So why would you call to warn them you’re on their trail? Contact them and the best they’re likely to offer is to take your image down, as if they’re doing you a favour: don’t expect an offer of serious compensation. Even if you convince them to pay, the sum is unlikely to be much more than a valid license would have cost: in which case you’ve just taught them that infringement is worth the risk, since the punishment is no more than the cost of being honest. You need to get their attention and you need to get them to take this seriously. You need to…

6. Hire a lawyer. There are plenty of good intellectual property attorneys in the US, and they’re eager for your business. Better yet, many will take a solid case on a contingency agreement for a percentage of any settlement; so long as you’ve registered the image correctly you can often take your pick. I chose to work with Barbara Hoffman, who I rather obviously recommend, but there are plenty of other options.

7. There’s no such thing as a small infringement. My infringed image was used 468 pixels wide on a site I’d never heard of before. It would be easy to be dismissive, but fortunately the law feels different and so should you. The substantial penalties for infringement under US copyright law are meant as a deterrent. When somebody ignores that deterrent and proceeds to steal anyway, he’s essentially telling the law he doesn’t GAF: the law doesn’t like being talked to like that. So what looks like a small infringement to you may seem a much bigger offence to the law: your infringement may not have many pixels, but it could be worth a lot of dollars.

8. Your small-time infringer may be a bigger player than you think. At a casual glance my infringer was a cuddly-looking blog: indeed its sister site was once caught heisting an image from flickr, and when the owner complained people told him “lighten up, it’s just a blog”. But a few seconds research revealed that both sites are owned by one of the world’s largest media companies, which bought my infringer’s site a few years ago. The price? Ten million dollars. And that for a site so cheap that I caught it swiping images from iStock rather than pay the $1 asking price.

9. Be forensic. Most infringing sites are serial offenders, but your infringer will naturally try to claim that your infringement is an isolated case: your job is to prove the opposite. My Google Alerts experience shows infringers to be none too bright, and fortunately they’re also lazy: once they find an easy infringement method they repeat it over and over. That in turn produces a pattern that makes it easy to find further infringements on their site. Identifying repeated infringements demolishes any “isolated case” defence and shows the site infringes as a matter of custom and practice: should your case go to court the defence will have a hard time explaining this. Once I’d identified my infringer’s work pattern it only took a few hours to find 50 verifiable infringements on their site, at which point I got bored: game over for the defence.

10. If you have an agent don’t expect them to protect your copyright. My infringer’s site was awash with what appeared to me clear-cut and easily verifiable infringements. The surprise was that the vast majority of the images were either owned or represented by the biggest picture agencies on the planet. So either they were unable to find the infringements or unwilling or unable to pursue the infringer. Either way, if you sleep soundly at night in the belief that your big agent’s lawyers are watching out for infringements of your work, I have some very bad news for you.

There are also some rules for the other players in all this. For Old Media: do your due diligence on that hot new media property you’re about to shell out millions for. Do they have the same understanding and respect for the value of intellectual property that you do? If not you could be buying a copyright infringement time bomb.

And New Media: despite what the pied pipers of Freetardia may have led you to believe, all our internet is not free for you to help yourself as you think fit. The law applies to you just as much as anyone else. And the technology that has made it easy for you to leech off the creativity of others is developing to make it easier to catch you. Steal and you will be caught. Get caught and it will cost you.

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57 Responses to “The 10 Rules Of US Copyright Infringement”

  1. Mike Mike says:

    Excellent post Jeremy, thanks for taking the time to share this info

  2. Stefan Stefan says:

    Thank you for the helpful information!

    Just a quick question: “Within 90 days after exposure” – what does that mean to me for old pictures? Am I not allowed to register photos of the last five years?

    Thank you!
    Stefan

  3. Brian Harris Brian Harris says:

    Nice one Jeremy, well crafted, thanks.
    90 days after exposure ? Does this depend on the authors honesty or some date impregnated witthin the file…if so, fine for digital files but what about scans from negs etc which only have a ‘today’ date.
    Do you have all your material that is with various agents around the world registered or only the images on your own site ?
    Best Brian

  4. [...] 10 rules of copyright infringement.. David White posted this on June 13th, 2011 Read this, or [...]

  5. Martin Cameron Martin Cameron says:

    Many thanks for taking time to generously share your knowledge and experience. Kind regards, Martin

  6. Thank you so very much for such a clear, concise and easy to follow process and the pitfalls and rewards of taking your sage advice. (You write so well it makes me wonder are you really a photographer?)

  7. Tim Gander Tim Gander says:

    Excellent advice, Jeremy, thank you. Not only should all photographers read this, but also anyone thinking they can just lift pics off the net without repercussions. Maybe it is time the UK had a similar system. Copyright can still be free to all creators, but the current disincentives to thieves aren’t enough.

  8. What a terrific post. I’m going to repost this for our customers at Copyright Services International .com. Another added component to protecting your copyrights online is having a method of tracking or locating your images online. Using Google Images is a useful tool if you can find a preexisting copy of your image. All you need to do is select “Similar Images” to find other copies that may exist but this can be a bit limited. Tineye is also a handy tool but we find more international non-commercial vs. commercial US infringements through their service. You can also team up with a company like ours that provides digital fingerprinting and image tracking at a cost based on the settlement amounts recovered. I would make that #3.5 in this list. I would also like to mention a quick point on #2. Photographers no longer need to heavily blemish their work due to the fear of thief on the internet. The technology exists to find commercial infringements without any intervention by the photographer. It is very important to have at least a noticeable watermark on the image. We recommend “© Photographer Name” at font size 10 in the lower right corner which is non-invasive but still states clearly that the work is owned. The primary reason for this is that the copyright statutes in the United States make removal of the copyright information a substantial statutory damage ($10,000+) for each instance. WOW.

  9. Jeff Sed!ik Jeff Sed!ik says:

    Clarifying some of the information presented in the post and comments

    (1) You may not mix published and unpublished images in the same registration, so ganging up all of your images onto a single 5 times a year is a mistake that may result in the loss of the remedies gained by registration. You must also separate your published images by year of first publication, so images published in December must be separately registered from images published in the following month.

    (2) Not 90 days. 3 months. For registration of published images, you have a grace period of 3 months from the date of first publication. During that grace period, if your registration reaches the copyright office after an infringement commences, you are eligible for statutory damages and attorneys fees as if you registered in advance of the infringement. Once the 3 month period lapses, you may register at any time, and may seek statutory damages and attorneys fees for any infringements occurring after your effective date of registration. The difference between 90 days and 3 months does matter when it comes to the law. also, if you are showing unpublished images to anyone, there is no 3 month grace period on infringement of unpublished images.

    (3) If you only register 5 times a year, you are likely distributing unpublished images without a registration. If you provides anyone – such as a client or potential client – with access to unpublished images and if they commence infringing those images before the images are published and before you register the images, there is no 3 month grace period and there are no statutory damages or attorneys fees available to you, even if you later register within 3 months of first publication. Register your work before you show it to anyone.

    (4) Statutory damages range from $200 to $150,000 per image, *not* per infringement. If you prove willfulness, the range is $30,000 to $150,000 per image, and the amount in that range is left to the court’s discretion. If the infringer proves that infringement was innocent, statutory damages are as low as $200. If more than one image is infringed from a compilation, such as a book, calendar or website, statutory damages are limited to a single award, as if only one image had been infringed, even if thousands of images were infringed. For this reason it is a huge mistake to publish all of your images on a website solely for the purpose of saving money when registering.

    (5) @Copyright Services International: while not a legal requirement in order to enjoy copyright protection, a valid copyright notice has 3 elements: (1) the rights holder name, (2) the copyright symbol, and (3) the year of first publication. Using an copyright notice in an invalid format – such as omitting the year of first publication – is not recommended.

    (6) @ Copyright Services International: the statutory damages, per incident for alteration or removal of copyright management information are $2500 to $25,000, not necessarily $10,000+ as stated. Statutory damages for circumvention of technical protections are $200 to $2500. Interestingly, an early copyright registration is not required in order to seek or recover such damages.

    (7) You may elect to seek either actual damages/profits of the infringer, OR statutory damages. If the infringer made significant profits from the use of your image, you may find that actual damages/profits are more attractive than statutory damages, which are awarded at the discretion of the court within the ranges specified in the statute.

    Settlements for copyright infringement of photographs are very common and are generally quiet and confidential affairs, occurring day after day, week after week, month after month. Upwards of 85% of such cases filed in a court of law will settle before or during trial. If we also consider the cases not filed in court, the settlement percentage is likely in the high 90 percent range.

    If your matter proceeds to court and does not settle, expect expenses – not including your attorney’s fees – to fall into the range of $25,000 to $250,000 or more, over a 2-5 year period of discovery, trial and appeals. There is no guarantee that you will prevail, even if you are in the right. There is no guarantee that your damages will exceed your costs or that your costs will be reimbursed, even if you have a solid copyright registration. Expect that all of your income statements, estimates, invoices and licensing records will be subpoenaed by the infringer and will be used to demonstrate the value you routinely have placed on your own work over time. Not for the weak of heart.

    Importantly, when engaging in settlement discussions, never release the infringer from liability for infringements not disclosed to you at the time of the settlement agreement.

  10. [...] The 10 Rules Of US Copyright Infringement (jeremynicholl.com) [...]

  11. Karen Pratt Riggen Karen Pratt Riggen says:

    Thank you very much for some very important information.

  12. [...] The 10 Rules Of US Copyright Infringement [...]

  13. sxr sxr says:

    Thanks for the excellent Post Jeremy.

    You specifically said that you as a foreigner can register a US copyright using the eCO System. However, the Photoattorney’s article at http://www.naturescapes.net/docs/index.php/articles/341 clearly says that you must be a US citizen.

    Could you, or somebody else, elaborate on this, i.e. point out a U.S. Copyright Office source clarifying the use of the system by non citizens. Would hate to pay the money and have no protection should the worst happen. Obviously, it worked in your case.

  14. Jeremy admin says:

    SXR,

    I’m baffled; I hadn’t seen that before and it’s very clearly incorrect. Elsewhere PhotoAttorney says the opposite and encourages foreigners to register.

    And here’s confirmation from the Copyright Office.

  15. sxr sxr says:

    Thanks for the clarification. The links you gave removed any doubts I had in regards to registration by foreigners.

  16. @sxr – sorry for the confusion. admin is correct – foreigners may register. They just need to follow different directions for registering than my naturescapes article shows.

    Great article, Jeremy, and congrats on resolving your matter! One note – it’s easier to argue willful infringement and DMCA damages if your watermark is on the photo.

  17. Clive Frost Clive Frost says:

    Dear Jeremy,

    Firstly, to reiterate the appreciation of other respondents – a very helpful, informative and generous posting!! Many thanks!

    One issue which I needed to clarify is the matter of ‘published’ and ‘unpublished’ images and most particularly nowadays how these terms are defined in respect of having a website, which most practicing professional photographers do. The answer seems to be yes, if the images on your site are for public view, i.e. not ‘privately’ accessible via password entry etc., then they are deemed legally as having been ‘published’.

    http://asmp.org/tutorials/published-or-unpublished.html

    The questions that I am still cogitating over are:
    How important is the date of first publication?
    How does providing this date effect any possible settlement of damages etc. for any infringement?
    If you can prove copyright ownership, isn’t an infringement an infringement regardless of whether the image was shot this year or 20+ years ago?
    If your work was published before the Berne Convention was adopted (i.e. prior to March 1st 1989), why is an infringement any less of an infringement if you can prove copyright ownership?
    I have just finished a major relaunch of my website and included material on there from different periods of my photography career and the temptation is to state that publication for all the images is the date when the new website was launched. Is this unwise and would there be any legal repercussions for my claim if an infringer maintained/knew that a particular image was published before the date that I stated?

    Jeremy or others – any thoughts on these questions gratefully received?

    Best wishes to all,

    Clive

  18. [...] The 10 Rules Of US Copyright Infringement (jeremynicholl.com) [...]

  19. [...] The 10 Rules Of US Copyright Infringement (jeremynicholl.com) [...]

  20. Clive Frost Clive Frost says:

    Re. Jeremy’s point 2; Copyright Services point 8 and Jeff Sedlik’s point 5, my copyright notice appears over the image when a visitor runs their cursor over that image? Would this be considered a valid copyright notice and give you the same copyright protection as a fixed text notice in the bottom right hand corner of the image or immediately adjacent to the image?

  21. Michael J. Amphlett Michael J. Amphlett says:

    Brilliant post Jeremy, extremely helpful and equally encouraging – a big “Well done!” for pursuing these thieving b*astrds and enforcing your intellectual property rights. Irrespective of the finer points, Jeremy’s example should be followed by us all.

    Once again, thanks and well done!

    Mike.

  22. [...] I also found a post on this topic over on Jeremy Nicholl’s Russian Photo’s Blog called: The 10 Rules Of US Copyright Infringement. In that post he tells how in January of this year he found one of his photos on the website of a [...]

  23. Congratulations and thanks to you and the commenters for providing the info. Some additional questions for whomever can answer them:
    - Is it correct that an infringement can be fought until 3 years after it happened?
    - Is there any negative consequence for registering images for a certain year all as published? For example I have posted 100 images on my website in 1999, but since my site has changed and I cannot trace which ones were online. Can I just add all images from 1999/those collections to a single 1999 filing?
    - Does anybody know a lawyer that will take on a case in Australia and/or a case in Switzerland? Please contact me if so.

    Cheers, Harry

  24. [...] early 2010 Maisel found the 8bit version of his image, moved straight to no. 6 of the ten rules of US copyright infringement, and called his lawyers. Seven months later Baio settled out of court for $32,500 plus legal fees: [...]

  25. I disagree with 6. – don’t go straight to a lawyer, go straight to the client. Several reasons for this, one you will understand a bit more of the background of why they infringed. Not all infringements are flagrant and although you might be able to cop them you might be better off having a new client that will use you for the long run (after all they owe you one and like your images) than go for the quick pay off and have a sue grab it and run reputation with them AND their associates (who may all be potential buyers also). Finally you always have the lawyer card at the end of it but to me lawyers just breed more lawyers and they clean up on both sides.

  26. A. Garfield A. Garfield says:

    You got the best attorney in the business with Barbara Hoffman! Congratulations….

  27. You mentioned something about Google alerts.. how would that work for images? What about Tineye.com is that useful?

  28. I have found (after posting almost 2000 images)… that Flickr may be the worst place to share images. Today after reading your blog I found one of my images is copies to 20 different websites!! Amazing thievery, taken right from under my nose. TinEye opened my eyes… I will now start copyrighting EVERY image I post online. I have a lot to do! lol… Thanks to Michelle from foto chix on facebook for leading me to your blog.

    I also contacted your lawyer. Thanks again.
    Rebecca

  29. [...] Click here for the article reference copyrights and protecting your images. It is a short read, but an important one for all us photographers. Do yourself a favor and check it out. [...]

  30. Outstanding post on looking at and then taking action over (c) theft. A great set of ideas there for all photographers to follw – thanks for sharing your experiences.

    @Rebebba – I have stopped posting onto Flickr for the same reason’s – far too easy to get my images without paying for them.

    Thanks again,

    Andrew Miller
    http://www,andrew-miller.co.uk

  31. Neil Williams Neil Williams says:

    I am so pleased that we don’t have an unnecessary US style registration system in the UK – you own the copyright the moment you capture the image — unless as a freelance you agree to give copyright away or are on a company payroll.

    I have pursued many companies across Europe and a large corporation in the US who have displayed my images on their websites without the need for highly over paid copyright lawyers or bureaucratic registration systems. Some of the companies were small, one a major sports company operates a 1.6 billion turn over.

    Never put any images on Flickr or Twitter, etc. If drawn to photo competitions thoroughly scrutinise the entry rules as most are rights grabbing.

    Proving straight forward copyright theft is not rocket science.

  32. Jeremy admin says:

    WorldImageTrader, I understand your reasoning for going to the infringer first: if there’s a realistic chance of turning the infringer into a regular client that makes sense. But in my recent case I could see that would not happen. That’s also why Jay Maisel was right to send lawyers after Andy Baio, who has a long and ideologically based history of ripping off artists: there’s no chance of him becoming a legitimate client.

    Also, the article is mainly aimed at non US photographers trying to pursue US infringers. When the photographer and infringer are in different countries pursuit can be a lot harder: a local lawyer helps get the infringer’s attention.

    There’s also a third reason for hiring a lawyer, one that may seem counter-intuitive. People generally feel that bringing lawyers in ups the stakes – which is true – but also that it ups the tension. But my experience is that the reverse can be true, especially if the infringer is a big corporation with lawyers on call. For both sets of lawyers this is just business, so they are often better equipped to negotiate a settlement than an angry photographer and a slippery infringer, who may feel inclined to just slug it out.

  33. Jeremy admin says:

    Harry, Exposed Planet,
    I “think” an infringement can be chased up to 5 years after the event, but I’m not positive.
    You can’t mix published & unpublished images: that’s an absolute rule. But the CO defines “publication” as the offering of images for sale or further distribution. So if all your 1999 images were offered for sale – for example via an agent – then they could all be treated as a single collection whether they were on your website or not.
    Don’t know about Australia, but ImageRights offer a service in Germany, and since the Swiss/German markets are often treated as one, their German lawyers may be able to help.

  34. Jeremy admin says:

    Clive, I’ve really no idea about the legal status of the “rollover” copyright notice. Logically it should be ok, but in reality I could see it providing lots of highly paid fun for lawyers to argue over. My feeling is that it’s best to keep these things really simple and indisputable, so I’d be more comfortable with something permanently visible.

  35. Jeremy admin says:

    Thanks Carolyn, and here’s an entirely unsolicited plug for Carolyn’s Photographers Legal Guide. The download PDF is only $9.95 and everybody should have it, seriously.

    Regarding watermarks, I wouldn’t want to go overboard discouraging them, but it seems to me that they’re becoming less necessary. Lawyers in my case accepted the adjacent CMI a sufficient for the DMCA. More importantly, because they were in court and judges made rulings, in two other cases adjacent CMI have been seen as sufficient.

    But aside from that watermarks can act as a deterrent. I think it’s a personal choice for the photographer: I used to be in favour of them, now not so much. I think of them as the equivalent as having bars on the windows of a house: they’re disfiguring, but they help prevent illegal entry, and depending on the neighbourhood they may be a good idea. But if at all possible I prefer not to live behind bars.

  36. Mahonri Mahonri says:

    How do I find the copyright ownership of photos posted online?

    I try by going to preferences and it does not say. I search using Tineye.com and it points to many places some images appear but does not say anything about copyright.

    Would like to notify some owners when I have found obvious ripoffs – but can’t find any info on the original copyright ownership.

    Do you have a way to find them?

  37. Matt Tordoff Matt Tordoff says:

    This happened to be a couple of weeks ago.I’m a UK based wedding photographer and someone in Arizona ripped off my work, put it on a website and said it was their own.

    I broke one of your rules and contacted them directly but as I haven’t actually registered my work the US wouldn’t I be covered by the Berne convention which the US is a signatory?

  38. [...] Jeremy Nicholl has posted a list of ten things you should do to combat copyright infringers – …. [...]

  39. kombizz kombizz says:

    Thank you for sharing this informative information.
    I read another article about how to Battle Copyright Infringement in NPPA which could be helpfull.
    http://www.nppa.org/member_services/advocacy/dmca_takedown_procedure/

  40. [...] Read more via :  The 10 Rules Of US Copyright Infringement » The Russian Photos Blog. [...]

  41. Jeff’s article here is fantastic, providing much information that I wasn’t able to get from the CO last year when I tried navigating the confusion and finally gave up.
    Thanks Jeff!

    And then he followed up with his June 14 posting ‘clarifying some of the info’; Also priceless.
    Thanks to others posting here too of course. GREAT STUFF.

    @JEFF,
    In your clarification (4) you say this: “If more than one image is infringed from a compilation, such as a website, statutory damages are limited to a single award, as if only one image had been infringed, even if thousands of images were infringed.”

    Does this mean that if someone uses a bunch of images from my website I’m only limited to a single award?

    That is,..if I diligently register all my images 5 times a year, each time doing so before using any of the images on my website, and THEN use many of those images on my website, and THEN I get infringed on say 3 images on the site,.. Have I been infringed 3 times (on 3 images) (so three statutory damages), or have I been infringed only 1 time (on my website)(so 1 time statutory damages).

    I don’t see why you say it’s a “huge mistable to publish all of your images on a website solely for the purpose of saving money when registering”
    as I don’t how publishing the images on the website IN ORDER TO REGISTER makes any sense at all. Are you saying that in order to register, we MUST have published the images somewhere?

    I’ve gotten all confused again.

    /shawn

    p.s. All I really want to know is: If I register all the new images I take over a three month period every three months, taking care to do two registrations, the first of the non’published images and the 2nd of the published images… am I doing the best I can?

    thanks

  42. PUBLISHED versus NON-PUBLISHED

    It seems from the above discussion that the distinction is made based on whether or not the public-display was done so in a way that could be construed as you ‘putting your images up for sale’.

    So if I want to register all the images in my archive with the CO,
    those images that I put on Flickr between 2005 and 2011 are not considered published by that act?

    But those that I put on my website (shawnkphoto.com) ARE considered published even though I didn’t state that I’m selling them?

    And those that I put on my website (uncertainregard.ch) ARE considered published expecially since I specifically stated that the pictures you see there are purchaseable?

    Thanks for any comments.
    /shawn

    p.s. I suspect that MOST photographers hold off registering their images because, as in my case, they are still confused about which images are considered ‘published’ and which ‘unpublished’ COMBINED WITH the conviction that if they accidently include a single ‘published’ image in with the unpublished then it makes the registration invalid and all that money and effort down the drain and worthless. At the point where I am now, I BELIEVE that all my images except those on my two personal websites are ‘unpublished’. So I think I can start batch registering the images including those that I’ve put on Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. But I’m worried that when someone does eventually infringe on one of those images, the courts will say… ‘nope, you screwed up your registration boy… so it doesn’t count’.

  43. [...] early 2010 Maisel found this version of his image, moved straight to no. 6 of the ten rules of US copyright infringement, and called his lawyer. Seven months passed, with litigation and court procedures and, finally Baio [...]

  44. [...] early 2010 Maisel found this version of his image, moved straight to no. 6 of the ten rules of US copyright infringement, and called his lawyer. Seven months passed, with litigation and court procedures and, finally Baio [...]

  45. [...] register it or anything in the UK (If you’re a serious photographer, you may what to consider registering them in the US to protect against infringements located there).  An image is copyright unless [...]

  46. [...] Jeremy Nicholl says to register photographic images at the US Copyright Office. “The U.S. may be a Berne signatory, but in practice the USA has a dual copyright system: major protection and zero protection.” Unregistered images are still copyrighted, but the remedies are quite limited. Registration carries with it statutory damages of $150,000 per infringement, plus legal costs.  Valuators of such assets need to ask one more question: Is EVERY frame registered? [...]

  47. Get a dog or cat that can sing opera. It’s always worked for me.

  48. Jason Barnes Jason Barnes says:

    A couple of minor errors in the first few paragraphs, as to the timetable to register to obtain full protection of registration. Other than that, very good advice. I routinely register my own photos, and have successfully gone after pirates.

  49. eni eni says:

    great post.what about non Us citizens?

  50. [...] HERE is another blog that talks about the rules of US Copyright Infringement. Don’t know how good it is, but it was written by a photographer that is UK Soviet based. [...]

  51. Aussie Aussie says:

    Hi can someone help in the case of permission given by email for photos to be used on a website US Based webpage Australian Photos I have sent an email indicating that I have revoked the copyright but the web page owner has ignored my request what would my next step be please ?
    Thanks

  52. [...] 10 Rules of US Copyright Infringement [...]

  53. Gary Eason Gary Eason says:

    Thanks for an excellent post. I just want to express my total opposition however to this acquiescence in the US copyright registration system, which is nothing more than a meal ticket for public officials and attorneys. It is utterly OUTRAGEOUS that we should have to endure all the bureaucracy and cost of registering something which exists in law as a matter of fact regardless. It is the equivalent (for example) of requiring everyone to go around with a label on their heads saying “not for raping”. And just imagine if every country did the same. I know I am wasting my time, but we should be campaigning for the repeal of this heinous system not promoting it.

  54. Anna Anna says:

    Copyright protects works of original authorship such as text, artwork, photographs, sound recordings, screenplays, music, lyrics, etc. You can register more than one work under one copyright registration. Such as a collection of books, songs, photographs, etc.
    If you need to protect your work you will want to register it for copyright. Visit http://copyrightregistry-online-form.com/ and fill out the form on the site. Your work will be registered same day!

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