Information on how to copyright and license your images.
I am not a lawyer.
When dealing with the law, always consult a lawyer. This is for educational purposes, and I’m writing this from my own personal experience dealing with copyright violations myself. I’m providing this information to give you a basic understanding of photography copyright. I would definitely recommend registering with the copyright office. You will have a lot more legal basis on filing a claim. You will increase your odds of having a better outcome if your images are used without your permission. I also cover information on licensing your pictures.
My own experience of copyright infringement.
My own experience of copyright infringement started when I first posted images on a particular social media account. I was not happy when I discovered my pictures being placed on all kinds of websites through social media’s API app. I would see my images on these other websites with advertisements running all over them, and I never gave them permission to use my pictures in that way. They do nothing but display my images and other people’s images and run advertisements on their websites. There is no new’s information on this site, nothing. Just photographs being displayed from social media accounts API apps and ads. I discovered these sites when I looked up an image I took of a Dickcissel. I used Google’s image search option, which I will discuss with you more about down below. Sure enough, I discovered my image on this website, and they were posting it without my permission. It did not make me happy, as you can understand! Make sure you do everything possible to protect your images, whether you’re in business or they are just your personal photos. As of writing this article, I’m still dealing with this issue. But I hope to resolve it soon.
What does it mean when a photo is copyrighted?
It means the owner has the right to copy, display, distribute, and create other works from their original work. You also have the right to license your images to others. When you take a picture with your camera, the copyright is yours due to the photograph that you created. You have full rights to the image for display or to reproduce. I would recommend getting complete copyright protection and to register your work with the copyright office. A copyright doesn’t just protect photography; it protects all types of works of art like books, music, movies, and other forms of artwork. You’ll find the information to register your photos with the copyright office further in this article.
Do photographers have the right to publish any photo they take?
They do not have absolute rights to publish every photo that they take. There are many concerns, but most of them deal with copyright problems and privacy problems. I used to think I could publish any photograph I took until I started to make my photography available for sale for commercial purposes. So when you’re out in public, always be aware you may not be able to sell a particular image if what you’re photographing is protected by copyright. Even if you’re photographing something in someone’s house, you need to be aware you might not be able to sell that particular image because of a privacy concern.
Can you publish a photograph of a work of art like a painting?
Well, yes and no, there are certain exceptions. The fair dealing exception means as long as the photo was for the purpose of study, parody review, or for a news organization or education purpose, no infringement took place. Whenever you’re unsure if you can publish a photograph of a work of art, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so check with a copyright lawyer to make sure.
Want to know how to protect your work?
Here are some ways to protect your images. One of the first steps you can do is mark your image with a copyright symbol and possibly a signature. Make sure to add your metadata to your photographs. Additional protection, you can disable the right-click if you’re displaying your images on the internet. And don’t forget to register your pictures with the copyright office.
How to know if your image has been stolen?
I found this neat little hack on a website called Photologo.co. Photologo.co suggests going to Google images, then when you go to the search bar, there’s an option to upload your photos. Here you can upload the image you want Google to search for, and it will display pages where a particular image is being displayed.
You should also check out a website called Copytrack.com. How does Copytrack.com help you find out if your images are stolen? You can do this by uploading your pictures, creating collections, and different categories of your photographs. They have a reverse image search algorithm that automatically runs in the background. If you find your images out there, you can confirm they are stolen and submit them in a claim. This does not take very long. Copytrack.com takes care of the enforcement rights if the case is successful. So check them out at Copytrack.com.
How Do you Register your Photos with the Copyright Office?
It’s pretty simple to register your work. You need to complete an application form with a non-returnable copy or copies of your work to be registered with the copyright office. When you do register your images with the copyright office, your personal information will be available to the public. So make sure that it’s acceptable to you because you don’t have to copyright your photos with the copyright office to have copyright protection. Still, it does help when it comes to legal matters dealing with copyright violations.
How do you license your Images?
As the owner of your photographs, you can transfer some or all of your rights of the picture to another person or to a company. You can give full or a partial license to the photographs you have taken for a certain amount of time or for the life of the duration of the copyright, which is usually 70 years depending on the life of the photographer.
You can transfer the entire rights of your photographs to a customer by waiving all your rights to the image involved. You can also give a limited time of use for the pictures. If you do decide to provide unlimited usage of your copyrighted photographs, I would think long and hard about that one. Several companies can help you with licensing your images like Istockphoto.com, Shutterstock.com, Bigstockphoto.com.
I hope this information helps you with your questions about photography copyrights and how to protect your images and how to register your pictures with the copyright office. Plus, some information on how to license your images with companies like Shutterstock.com, Istockphoto.com, and how to do a reverse image search with Google’s reverse image search option to track where your images are being used on the internet.
Michael Vance Pemberton
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