Start learning with our library of video tutorials taught by experts. Get started

Photography and the Law: Understanding Copyright
Illustration by

Photography and the Law: Understanding Copyright

with Ben Long and Carolyn E. Wright

Video: Understanding copyright registration

Ben Long: Hi, I'm Ben Long. Ben Long: So, we've all heard the word, copyright.

Watch this entire course now —plus get access to every course in the library. Each course includes high-quality videos taught by expert instructors.

Become a member
please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course Photography and the Law: Understanding Copyright
50m 58s Appropriate for all Apr 25, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

The intersection of photography and law is a complex place. At one of those crossroads lies copyright. Many photographers aren't familiar with this important topic and are left struggling with questions like "How do I register my work?" and "What protections do my copyrights provide when I discover that my photos have been used without permission?"

Carolyn Wright is a photographer and attorney who specializes in photographer's rights. She also publishes the popular Photo Attorney blog, where she writes about these issues. In this course, she sits down with Ben Long to discuss what copyright means to photographers and the correct steps to registering and defending their copyrights in the Internet age.

Subjects:
Design Photography
Authors:
Ben Long Carolyn E. Wright

Understanding copyright registration

Ben Long: Hi, I'm Ben Long. If you're like me, you take pictures and you understand how you need to get the shot into the camera, what you need to do with it in the computer. And you have this vague idea that maybe there's some legal issues around using that picture or even taking that picture, and it doesn't go much beyond vague idea. I am here now with Carolyn Wright, The Photo Attorney. And Carolyn, I got a lot of questions to ask you about copyright, and what it means.

And whether I need to do something different. And I understand you're the person to talk to. Carolyn Wright: Well, I'm happy to be here, and I certainly want to talk about this, because it's an important subject for photographers. Ben Long: So, we've all heard the word, copyright. And I see the little c circle, or a c symbol with a circuit around it. I have a vague idea that copyright is there to protect the creator of a work. As a photographer, what's copyright? Carolyn Wright: Well copyright means different things for different artists. But for photographers, it exists at the moment you fix the photograph. And it doesn't matter whether you are taking a photograph on film or in digital or in your DSLR or your, your, your iPhone.

What's important is that the moment that you take a photograph and it's fixed, then you get the protection of copyright. Ben Long: So merely taking a picture, it's inherently a copyrighted photo. Carolyn Wright: That's correct. A lot of people think that you have to register a copyright before you get the copyright. But fortunately for photographers, the moment you take the photo, you click the shutter, your photograph is protected by copyright. Ben Long: Okay, so what does that get me? Carolyn Wright: It gives you the rights for photographers. It gives you the exclusive right. And this is known under copyright law as the exclusive rights.

And it's under a statute. The U.S. Code Statute 17th title, 106, and the, those exclusive rights are the exclusive right to decide when or whether your photograph is going to be displayed, whether or when or if your photograph is going to be distributed. Whether it's going to be reproduced, and whether there's going to be a derivative work created from your photograph. And derivative works in, for the simplest terms, for a photographer, is that a lot of photographs are made into paintings that lot of painters like to use a photograph as a reference.

And that's called a derivative work. So, you as the copyright owner of the photo, of the photograph, get the exclusive right to decide whether your photograph is going to be reproduced, displayed, distributed or creative work created from that copyrighted work. Ben Long: Okay, so I'm simple in control of how it's used and where it can go, and presumably whether there's any financial compensation in there along the way? Carolyn Wright: That's correct, there is one caveat to that, something called fair use, and we can talk about that a little bit later.

But in general, this is the exclusive rights of a copyright owner. Ben Long: Okay, now you mentioned the idea of registering copyright. What is that, and is that something I should do? Carolyn Wright: I think so. In the United States and, and by the way, this is something that is unique to the United States. Ben Long: Copyright? Carolyn Wright: No the registering with the Copyright Office. Many other, the other countries who, while they will recognize copyright, they don't really have a registration program like we do in the United States. So in the United States, if you register your copyright with the copy, the U.S. Copyright Office, it gives you many advantages.

Some of those advantages, if, when you get to court. So let's say, if you're fighting about a copyright, it gives you some legal presumption such as that you own the copyright. That's as long as you register the copyright timely. But it also gives you some great benefits that if you're infringed, and as photographers these days, it's not really if you're going to be infringed, but when you're going to be infringed. It gives you some options as to damages some, something called statutory damages. Ben Long: So when we're talking about registering copyright, we're not talking about I've taken this picture, I need to now go register this picture, are we? Or are we talking about registering myself as an entity or? Carolyn Wright: Good question.

No, really what we're talking about is taking copies of those photographs and making these days, a digital file copy, and submitting them to the Copyright Office. And you can do that in a couple of ways. The old way was when you would reg, when you would register a copyright, you would have a paper version of it, a, a paper, you fill out a form and you send in. It could be a photocopy of the, of the photograph. It could be contact sheets. That's the old way of doing it. Fortunately today, the US Copyright Office has something, what they call the electronic Copyright Office.

It's a little e, capital C, capital O for, for short. We call it the eCO System, electronic Copyright Office. And, it's really easy now. You can sign up online, and in a few minutes you just fill out some information about your photographs that you've taken. You can register one, or you can register many at at a time. And you, you fill out some information about your, your photographs. You pay the copyright office a little bit of money. And, and then you upload copies of your photograph, so that you are actually have copies deposited.

That's what they call it, depositing a copy with the Copyright Office. And that way, if people want to determine which photos are registered with the Copyright Office, there's online records. They can go look at the paper records at the Copyright Office in Washington DC. But that's essentially the way you get it registered. Ben Long: Okay, the, in the digital age, I shoot a lot of pictures. Is it, am I choosing to register just my final selects, or do I only worry about images that I'm going to be putting out in the world somewhere? Carolyn Wright: I tend to, when I'm taking a lot of photos.

I, I generally take photos when I'm traveling, for example, or a, a, a project, or a shoot, or something like that. My practice is to register all of my unpublished work as one group. So, let's say I go to Venice on a trip, and I will come back to my computer, and I will make copies of all of those photos that I've taken in Venice, even the once that I don't plan to release to the public Ben Long: Mm-hm Carolyn Wright: because, it doesn't cost you any more. Carolyn Wright: And is just an automated process that I have, that I make a copy, get my photograph ready to upload to the copyright office, and then I register them as unpublished.

And it is tough, if you're a high volume shooter, it is tough to try to get all your photographs registered in, in that way. Fortunately the Copyright Office is now under a beta program, and where you can register bulk volumes of your published photographs online as well. so, so a lot of it is depending on what kind of shooter you are and when you can get your photographs registered. You can register them as unpublished or you can register them as published. And for the photographer who's now playing catchup, and maybe has never, ever registered a photograph in, in his or her life, the best thing is to go back and register your published works, the works that are out there, because they likely are being infringed if, especially if they're on the web.

And you want to make sure that your published work, the work that's out there accessible to the public, is registered so you can get some protection that way. Ben Long: What counts as published these days? Is that, has to have been in some kind of official magazine. Or if I put something on Facebook or on my blog is that published? Carolyn Wright: That's a difficult question because the Copyright Office really doesn't tell us. They will usually ask you. If you call the Copyright Office right now and ask the Copyright Office, alright, I've posted a photograph on a social media site, is that published? And the Copyright Office will ask you, do you think it's been published? Carolyn Wright: no? Yes? Whatever.

I would. Ben Long: This is like Copyright Office as therapists with the, well, how do you feel about your rights? Carolyn Wright: LAUGH Exactly. Well, The safest thing is that if you've made your photographs available to the public, to consider them as published. There's a lot of distinctions that may change that according to the law. But there's really an advantage to registering them as published rather than unpublished. Ben Long: Uh-huh. Carolyn Wright: And it's just really too legal-geeky to get into that right now. Ben Long: LAUGH Carolyn Wright: But, if you've made it available to the public, that's the best thing.

If you, for example, put your photographs online, and they're password protected. For example, you're, to a client. And say, check these out. Here's the password protected it. That's likely not published. so, if the general public can't get to it, it's generally not to be considered published. Ben Long: Okay. Published does not necessarily mean, does not inherently mean commercial sale or something like that. Carolyn Wright: Well, part of the problem we have now is that in the old days to publish a photograph, it really meant it was published in a magazine.

Ben Long: Right. Carolyn Wright: It was published in a book. We didn't have the Internet to wonder whether something was published. Ben Long: Right. Carolyn Wright: So the courts really haven't caught up with technology and the Internet age, and so we really don't have distinct definitions yet of whether something on a social media website is, or in an ebook, whether that would be considered to be published.

There are currently no FAQs about Photography and the Law: Understanding Copyright.

 
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Photography and the Law: Understanding Copyright.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your lynda.com subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.