The Top 8 Questions About Copyright Answered

The Top 8 Questions About Copyright Answered

Why register a photo if it’s not yet published? Should I wait until just prior to publishing?

Under US Copyright Law, copyright exists the moment you take a picture. But registering your images with the US Copyright Office confers two major benefits:

  • The court can award statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement.
  • The court can award reasonable attorney fees

If you register and unpublished work, and then subsequently publish it, it is covered by the copyright registration.

What is considered “published”?

The US Copyright office doesn’t offer specific guidance on this issue, nor is there any case law. But for purposes of the Internet, any image that is viewable through a public link should probably be considered published. This includes all social media, blogs, portfolio websites, etc. You want to register your published images within three months of publication makes it easier to sue and recover damages.

Is there a limit on the number of photographs in a published submission?

Yes. You can register up to 750 published images under one fee by using the Copyright Office’s Continuation Form. For unpublished works, there is no limit.

What fees are involved in registering images?

$35 for a single work. $55 for all others. Here is a complete list of fees from the US Copyright Office.

Is the registration fee based on a single bulk batch regardless of quantity or based on a per image basis?

The rules for unpublished and published images vary. But generally speaking you can group images together. See more on the US Copyright site.

How do I register images online?

Here’s John Harrington’s video guide for registering Published Images on the US Copyright Office’s eCO System.

What are the ramifications of not registering within 3 months? 

If you do not register published works within three months, you may not collect statutory damages or attorney’s fees.

What is a DMCA takedown notice?

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act is a US Copyright Law that incorporates two treatises of the World Intellectual Property Organization. It provides online entities with “safe harbor” when a user uploads copyrighted content. With this provision, however, these companies must provide a mechanism for honoring DMCA Takedown requests. It also makes it illegal to remove copyright information (either meta data or a watermark) from an image.

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This article was written by

Marketing associate at PhotoShelter

There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Pingback: The Top 8 Questions About Copyright Answered | PhotoShelter Blog – The Click
  2. Dean at 11:55 am

    Thanks for the awesome answers Sarah, but I think I have one many people using the online version is going to have once they attempt this. Trying to register many published works in one group, like as you suggested using the Continuation Form, online it allows you to list many “titles” but only allows ONE SINGLE DATE for the entire group.

    Can you tell me if the way to do this, like with Continuation Forms, is to list a bunch of “titles” but just use the earliest date as THE DATE of publication?

    I noticed the Continuation Form also does not have a date. This seems kinda consistent with the online version.

    I’ve been posting about this one problem online. It would so help me if I can get an answer to this! Thanks!

  3. Fabio at 6:34 pm

    When I register a group of photograph with the Copyright Office, within few month I receive a letter to confirm the registration. However, there is no reference of the actual work being registered, not on line or with the letter.

    How would I know if all the photographs which are submitted are actually registered?

  4. Davide at 12:05 pm

    Hello, It’s my first time doing registration of groups of photos with the Library of Congress US Copyrights.
    I want to spend as little as possible to register several thousands of photos taken in several years, at the moment still unpublished.
    My idea to do so, is to publish them all together in one day online, so that after I can register them paying one single fee as a group registration of published images.
    I know that it is possible to register images as unpublished within three months of publication. But what if I want to register them as published (not unpublished) within those three months, is it possible?
    In example, today I upload them online to make them published, and tomorrow I do the registration, can I register them as published, or should I wait for 3 months to pass?
    (please note that there is no limit also for pblished images if the continuation form is not used)
    Thank you for the help

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