There is a peculiarity with US copyright legislation that is called “registering your photos with the Library of Congress”.

There is no requirement to “register” your images. The copyright is yours for your pictures if you don’t as well as if you do. It is not the “ownership” of the copyright that is at issue. (or is it with “the Copyright Office” – don’t remember off hand)

Registering your images with the L of C makes an important difference for one other reason: It can have a major impact on how much money you can get if someone infringes your copyright. To put it simply, the way I understand it is this:

If you have not registered your images and someone infringes on your copyright (steals your photos, uses them without proper authorisation) then the best you can hope for in a US court is to get as much money as a reasonably license fee for the use would be.

If you have registered your pictures with the Library of Congress then you can get substantially much more money in a court case from someone who has infringed on your copyright. If you need to hire a lawyer to protect yor rights then it will of course be much easier if you have registered your images.

This came to mind when I read on APhotoEditor about proposed price changes. There is a proposal on the table that the basic fee for making an electronic filing should go up from $35 to $65. This is of course a pity but considering that you can register your images in batches with many photos it is still not very dramatic, and should not really deter someone from doing it.

2 Responses

  1. As of March 1, 1989, copyright has been produced automatic. The require to register with the Copyright Office is no longer needed to offer protection. As soon as you create a picture, you own the copyright. A copyright notice (for example, a copyright symbol or watermark) is also no longer required to safeguard your photographs (excluding older works) even so, a lot of photographers continue to use to identify themselves and the date of creation.

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    1. Victor, Not sure whether this is spam or not with those links….

      But if you are in the legal profession surely you must also be aware of that in the US it does make a very real difference from a legal standpoint. Sure, the copyright is always yours but if you haven’t registered you have much less chances of getting any money from infringements. (And this is because the US don’t handle copyright in the same way as most other countries)

      Given this, my hunch is that you’re a spammer…

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