How to Copyright Your Photos and Why You Should

– How to Copyright Your Photos and Why You Should –

How to Copyright Your Photos and Why You Should: In today’s digital world, it has become crucial to register a copyright for your images.

That’s why we’ve put together this simple copyright information guide for you. It’ll only take five minutes to learn how to give your photos copyright protection.

How to Copyright Your Photos

Online theft is rampant, so you need to protect yourself and your work. Read on to find out why you should and how to copyright your photography.

According to the Berne Convention, you automatically own the copyright on any original photograph that you take.

The problem arises when someone else tries to rip you off and you have to prove that you are the owner of the copyright on your photos.

By registering your photographs with the U.S. Copyright Office, you’ll get independent, legally-permissible proof that you own the copyright on your work.

This can make it much easier to navigate intellectual property lawsuits.


What is a Copyright

“Copyright” is “the right to copy.” This right is a legal construct, designed for you — the artist — to support your artistic endeavors.

Without copyright, people would be free to use your artistic work without payment, and there would be little financial compensation for the effort of creating art.

With copyright, you have legal protection. If someone wants to use (copy) your work, they have to get your permission.

You can negotiate a “license” to copy, and perhaps even get paid in real money. Hopefully, this will give you more incentive to create art, and the world will be a better place.

Legal copyright dates from 1557. At this time, a British printers’ guild prohibited members from printing books originated by other members.

The publisher had protection but not the author. In 1710, Britain’s “Statute of Anne” gave copyright protection to authors, limited the duration of the protection, and gave rights to purchasers.

The U.S. Constitution of 1787 discussed “securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries” and the original U.S. Copyright Act dates to 1790.

Rights were further defined and globalized with the Berne Convention, which was written in 1886 and adopted in U.K. law in 1988 and the U.S. in 1989.

How to File for Copyright

Some countries have agreements with the U.S. to enforce U.S. copyright laws. It’s often useful to register your copyright in the U.S. even if you’re not a U.S. citizen, to obtain the statutory benefits of registration in the United States.

Ideally, you should copyright any images before they are published, but you can copyright them at any time.

You can even copyright them after you’ve discovered an unlawful use of one of your images. It will just be a bit more complicated from a documentation standpoint.

The cost of registering copyright varies from country to country. In Canada, it’s $50, and in the U.S., it’s currently $55 for a group of images. You can copyright your images as a group, to a maximum of 750.

How to Copyright Your Photos

As a photographer or graphic artist, you have the exclusive right to:

  • make and sell copies of your photo
  •  create derivative works (other art based on the photo, such as a painting of the photo)
  •  display the photo in public
  • to license usage for money to other people

Owning a physical copy of an image does not mean that someone can use that image as they wish, as it does not make them the copyright owner of the image.

For example, if a photographer sells a picture to someone, the photographer remains the copyright owner.

Only the copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce their image and can bring proceedings for copyright infringement against anyone who reproduces it without their consent.

It is advisable to place a copyright notice on images being displayed in public, for example, on-line.

Other forms of copyright protection can involve placing a watermark on the image to deter infringement or only posting very low-resolution versions of your images online as then the print quality is very poor.

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