Copywright Protection?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by kilifila66, Jul 19, 2005.

  1. kilifila66

    kilifila66 TPF Noob!

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    As I am still fairly new at this whole photography thing, I was interested in what kind of Copywright protection a photographer has over their work? Do you have to apply for CP on every single picture? Do you have a inherent copywright because you shot it, or in other words do you own the exclusive wrights to use those photos? Any info or comments on this are welcome.


    Thanks,
    Drew
     
  2. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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  3. Mike Jordan

    Mike Jordan TPF Noob!

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    Drew, copyright is not as clear cut as some people think... nor does it protect you as well as it is suppose to. Here in the US, the moment you create a picture, you have a copyrighted image. It's automatic. The problem is, that that copyright is like putting a suitcase lock on your front door. It will keep the honest people honest, but nobody else. The reason is that to protect your copyright, it costs money... lots of money. If someone steals one of your images and uses it for something and you find out and they refuse to pay you for it's use or to even stop using it, all that leaves you is taking them to court... Federal Court, which is not cheap. I've been told by copyright lawyers (Intelectual Property or IP Lawyers) that taking a case all the way through to a judgement could run up to $50k or more. Just to get it into the front door of the court can take up to $10k. And if you win, the judgement against them might not even be enough to pay off your legal fees. So most people have a choice, spend a lot of money to sue someone or walk away from it. I've had it happen to me and though my principles said to take her to court, I found my principles didn't have enough money to do it over the picture she stole and used. I did get her to stop using it, but that didn't really make me feel a lot better after she had gotten away using it in two national magazines and refused to pay me useage fees.

    But there is a way to get the copyright law to work for you and protect you all the way... that is to register your images with the copyright office (Library of Congress). You don't need to register your images to have them copyrighted, BUT there is one very special benifit to having them registered... if someone infringes on your image and you take them to court and win, they get to pay ALL court and legal fees for both of you. And IP Lawyers know this and will try to get their clients to settle long before it gets to court. And the chances are very good that they will when they find out your images are registered.

    Registering is easy and cheap. The short of it is, that you can register as many images as you can fit on a CD for $35. I registered one CD that had several thousand screen size jpeg images on it. And I've done 4 or 5 CDs so far of images. I chauked up the infringment against me as a wake up call and a boot in the back side to learn about copyright (I didn't know near what I thought I did) and get my images registered.

    There are two classifacations of images to register... Published and un-published. Published images are those that have been sold, rented, leansed, or what ever that has made you money and a few other criteria. It doesn't mean that you have had them on your web site or shown them to people or even had them published (as long as you didn't get paid for it). For published images you have 90 days from the day they are considered published to get them registered. After that you don't get the special benifit. For un-published images, you can register them anytime (up to 90 days after they get published) and still get the special benifit.

    You have to send in these two types of images seperately on different forms and pay $35 each. I just register all of mine as published (it's up to the author to determine if their images are published or not if they don't meet any of the other criteria) so I can put everything on one CD and use one form. It's not to save the money, it's just easier.

    When you send your images in, the registration starts the day they receive it, so I just use delivery conformation and print off the information from the USPS web site that shows the CD was delivered. I add that to my copy of the form and CD that I keep in my files.

    If you want to read up on copyright, here is the link to the copyright office: http://www.copyright.gov/

    It's worth piece of mind and the extra protection.

    Mike
     
  4. darin3200

    darin3200 TPF Noob!

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    I've actually heard about people who just contact the ISP of the person committing the infringement and the ISPs shut them down almost immediately without asking a lot of questions just to avoid a lawsuit.

    A lot of the rights to photographs issues for me come from whether or not the person who is taking the pictures is doing it professionally or not. I really can't understand why people taking pictures as a hobby go through such great lengths to protect their photos if all they did was take them as a hobby. I release my pictures under Creative Commons because if people want to redistribute my pictures with my name I would like the free attention on my work, and if someone wants to use part of my photo in a new, derivative work, it won't hurt me at all so why not let them? But some people like to protect their work more and that is their choice so I can respect that too.

    However, I understand a lot more why professionals need to more fully protect their work from copyright infringment because photography then becomes the basis of those people's financial stability.
     
  5. Mike Jordan

    Mike Jordan TPF Noob!

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    Darin, it doesn't matter if the person is just taking snap shots or charges $500 per image. When someone takes someone's image without permission and uses it for their own profit or use, that's stealing. If it was ok for anyone to take anyone elses work and do what they wanted with it, people would tend to hide their work and never share it... This is why copyright, patents, trademarks, etc., were created. There use to be a time when it was fair game to steal the work of others rather than do it yourself. Unfortunately it still happens, but at least there is some recourse if it happens and it's found out.

    A lot of people are good about sharing on the internet, if just anyone could take their work, you would find the internet a much colder and less helpful place.

    Mike
     
  6. darin3200

    darin3200 TPF Noob!

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    I agree, however in my post I was just expressing my personal views on how extensively some people go to protect their copyrights. If people do go to these lengths to protect those copyrights that is fine by me and I will respect that, I just have differing views on how I handle my pictures.


    This depends on the person. I license my stuff under a non-commericial Creative Commons license. This allows anyone to do whatever they want with my work and to spread it across the internet and elsewhere as long as they give me credit and its not for commercial use. And if they don't give me credit I'll be upset but they would most likely break the license regardless if it was creative commons or copyrighted.

    Well yes, but primarily these licenses were made to protect the creators and artists by given them a set period of time in which they, and only they, could profit off of their creation before it went into public domain.

    I really don't believe that there has been a recent time were people could steal others' work legally. However, it used to be that people could build off of other people's ideas and make new, derivative works. For instance, were the creators of "West Side Story" 'stealing' Shakspeare's idea or building off of it? It used to be that a lot of our culture was made based on new interpretations of other people's ideas but with more industry involvement the government has becoming increasingly restrictive of individual rights to fair use.
    If anyone could take illegally it would be a much colder place, but if the creator allows for people to use their work under less restrictive underlines we have more creativity and make the internet a much more vibrant environment.
     

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