Copyright Law for Photographers

In workshops, I often get at least one question about copyright, and how necessary it is to protect your images. My answer always begins with, "Well, I'm not s lawyer, but here's what I know..." Now, thanks to the folks at PhotoShelter, we have a real lawyer to dispense knowledgable advice.

"In the article, 5 Ways Photographers Can Protect Their Images Online, Carolyn Wright, the "photo attorney," lists five things photographers should do to protect their work. I will tell you up front that these are measures that many shooters do don't do, but I think they are good to know.

Here's an example of Carolyn's advice: "Register your copyrights to your photos. When a photo is not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office prior to the infringement (or within three months of the first publication of the photo), a copyright owner may recover only "actual damages" for the infringement (pursuant to 17 U.S.C. 504 (b)), instead of statutory damages. Courts usually calculate actual damages based on your normal license fees and/or industry standard licensing fees. You also may recover the profits the infringer made from the infringement if they aren't too speculative. Unfortunately, actual damages usually don't amount to much so that attorneys will not take your infringement case on a contingency basis."

Take a look and see what you think.