Today I would like to write a little bit about your rights to reproduce and handle your artwork.
Copyright is the exclusive right of a photographer to control the use and reproduction of the photographs they create.
Copyright does not give photographers the right to freely use their images as they
wish. State laws determine the need for a model release from the subjects of the images for certain commercial uses.
Copyright does, however, prevent others from using professionally created images
without the photographer’s express permission.
The Federal Copyright Act and other cases, establish the following:
-At the moment a professional photograph is created the copyright comes automatically into existence
-By law, that copyright belongs to the photographer or the photographer’s studio
-A customer who orders and purchases the photograph does not thereby obtain ownership of the copyright
-Any transfer of the copyright’s ownership to a customer must be outlined in writing
-A lab, or other third party, who prints or reproduces photographs commercially, has a legal duty to ensure that the requested copy or intended use is lawful before fulfilling the order
-A photograph does not need to be marked with a copyright notice to be protected although it helps a lot to point this out
-A photograph does not need to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office to be protected, although it will immensely increase your ability to enforce your rights in the event of a litigation
-A photograph can be marked with the © symbol immediately upon creation; it does not need to be registered first
Three main questions appear with publishing a photograph.
1) Do I have to mark my photographs?
Technically, a copyright mark is not required for protection. However, as a practical matter, I encourage everyone to mark all their work. It helps to clear up any questions for those who don’t understand. Since lack of understanding is at the core of many infringements, this small step can go a long way toward protecting your work.
2) Do I need to register my photographs?
Registration is a verifiable record of your copyright, so that in the event of a legal claim, a case of infringement or plagiarism, you can produce a copy from an official government office.
Registration involves sending your work to the U.S. Copyright Office along with some paperwork and registration fee. It is not required by law, yet it will immensely increase your ability to enforce your rights in the event of a litigation, as you will not be able to claim statutory damage or attorney’s fees unless your work was registered prior to the infringement, or within 3 months of its publication.
3) How long does a copyright last?
The current copyright term is the lifetime of the creator plus 70 years or for works created by a corporation, 95 years.
If you would like to learn more about copyright, please go to www.copyright.gov
Enjoy as always to capture special moments and in case you would like to publish or sell your art remember the copyright. 🙂