Presentation: Rights and Restrictions of Photography

Photo by Kristin Boyd

Photo by Kristin Boyd

Join Photo Attorney®, Carolyn E. Wright, for a presentation on the rights and restrictions of photography at the Carson City Library in Carson City, Nevada, at 6 p.m., on Wednesday, February. 17. Admission is free. Learn more about the event on the Nevada Appeal website.

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Survey on the DMCA Remedy for Online Piracy

The Copyright Alliance is conducting a survey on the effectiveness of the DMCA takedown provision for online infringements.  It takes only a few minutes.

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Can You Afford An Attorney to Help You With Your Copyright Infringement Claim?

Snow Goose Color - Copyright Carolyn E. Wright

You’ve discovered that you have been infringed, gathered the evidence, and are now deciding what to do next. As our blog post, “Help! I’ve Been Infringed” explains, you have options, one of which is to retain an attorney to help you recover damages for the infringement. But can you afford one?

Lawyers usually charge either by the hour or a contingency fee where the lawyer is paid a portion of the recovery via a settlement or court award. Other less common fee structures include a flat fee or pro bono (for free), or a combination of any of these choices.

The average 2013 hourly billing rate for lawyers was about $604 for law firm partners and $370 for associates. So your attorney fees can escalate quickly. Few photographers can afford to pay these fees, and they especially are costly if you are unable to recover any damages.

So a contingency fee arrangement may be your only option to get a lawyer’s help. Finding an attorney who works on contingency for copyright infringement claims can be difficult enough, but a recent survey conducted by the Copyright IP section of the American Bar Association found that most attorneys won’t take a copyright infringement claim unless it’s worth at least $30,000.  Many infringement claims don’t rise to that value.

Enter Photo Attorney®. We started our law firm 12 years ago specifically to help photographers, knowing that most can’t afford the traditional law firm arrangement. By having lower overhead, we are available to help more photographers with their infringement claims on a contingency fee basis even when the potential damage recovery doesn’t meet other firm’s threshold. Also with our firm, you get an experienced attorney to immediately and directly handle your infringement claim — not a layperson. Your case will get personal attention, as will you. And, even better, your share usually will be 2/3 of the total recovery!

Our attorneys have the experience and will take the time to advise you on all your potential claims and options, including negotiating a claim pre-suit to filing a lawsuit on your behalf in federal court. We currently are representing clients in court cases from Florida, to New York, to Texas, to California, and places between. We understand the parameters of the DMCA, as well. Your options to battle infringement often include more than a take-down notice.

Want to find out whether we can help you with your infringement claim?  It’s easy and free.

First, make copies of the infringing uses as soon as possible (get tips on gathering the infringement evidence at and Read Help! I’ve Been Infringed! and What’s An Infringement Worth? Then download and complete our Copyright Infringement Evaluation Form (or request one by email). Finally, send the completed Evaluation Form and requested documents by email.

We’ll review your submission asap and let you know how we can help you to get the money you deserve.

NOTICE:  Past results do not guarantee, warrant, or predict future cases.

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Copyright Office Comments Now To Be Filed Using

The United States Copyright Office is now using the federal government’s system for the submission and posting of public comments in its public proceedings, including the Office’s three recently initiated studies on software-enabled consumer products, section 1201 and section 512.

The specific instructions for submission of comments for each of the studies using the system may be accessed at the links below:

Section 1201 Study 

Written comments must be received no later than February 25, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. eastern time. Written reply comments must be received no later than March 25, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. eastern time.

Section 512 Study 

Written comments must be received no later than March 21, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. eastern time. (A reply comment period has not yet been scheduled.)

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FAA Releases B4UFLY Smartphone App

Mt Tallac Aerial-Copyright Carolyn E. Wright

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released the B4UFLY mobile application to inform users about current or upcoming requirements and restrictions in areas of the National Airspace System (NAS) where they may want to operate their unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The app is now available for Apple devices and can be downloaded from the App Store.

The FAA also is releasing a beta version of B4UFLY for Android devices, which can be downloaded from Google.

“We expect B4UFLY will help raise public awareness about what it means to operate unmanned aircraft safely,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta Huerta said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV. “It is another important part of our education and awareness efforts to foster a culture of safety and accountability for the UAS community.”

The B4UFLY app includes a number of enhancements the FAA developed as a result of user feedback during the beta testing announced in May 2015 . Within two taps, users know if it is safe to fly at their current location. The app provides a status indicator that tells users: “Proceed with Caution,” “Warning – Action Required,” or “Flight Prohibited.” The app also features a planner mode that allows users to select a different time and location for an upcoming flight and determine if there are any restrictions at that place and time.

By law, hobbyists who want to fly within five miles of an airport must notify the airport operator and the air traffic control facility (if there is one) prior to flying. For now, B4UFLY will ask users who are supposed to notify the airport before flying for voluntary information about their planned flight. This will not meet the statutory requirement to notify the airport and air traffic control facility, but the data will help the agency make informed policy decisions related to notification. This information will not be publicly available.

You can find more information on our B4UFLY webpage.

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Copyright Office Initiates Two Studies and Requests Public Comments

Copyright Office Initiates Section 512 Study and Requests Public Comments

The U.S. Copyright Office is initiating a study to assess the impact and effectiveness of section 512 of Title 17. To aid this effort, the Office will publish on December 31, 2015, a Federal Register notice soliciting written comments from the public on several aspects of section 512, including the general operation of section 512’s safe harbor provisions, the processes for issuing takedown notices and counter notifications, and the legal standards that apply under the statute.

Written comments must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 21, 2016. Specific instructions for submitting comments will be posted on the Copyright Office website on or before February 1, 2016. The Office will be announcing one or more public meetings, to take place after the initial written comments are received, by separate notice in the future.

Copyright Office Initiates Section 1201 Study and Requests Public Comments

The U.S. Copyright Office is initiating a study to assess the operation of section 1201 of Title 17. To aid this effort, the Office will publish on December 29, 2015 a Federal Register notice soliciting written comments from the public on several aspects of section 1201, including the triennial rulemaking process, the statute’s anti-trafficking provisions, the permanent exemptions, and consumer issues. The Notice of Inquiry and more information about the study are available here.

Written comments must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on February 25, 2016. Written reply comments must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 25, 2016. Specific instructions for submitting comments will be posted on the Copyright Office website on or before February 1, 2016. The Office will be announcing one or more public meetings, to take place after written comments are received, by separate notice in the future.

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Last Minute Gifts for Photographers

Looking for some last minute gifts for your favorite photographer (you or someone else)?  Ebooks and forms will be delivered the same day of purchase (including on December 25th)!

Forms for Photographers Photo Attorney Forms-sm

The right contract can make or break your business. While hiring an attorney to create a customized contract for your specific needs is best, it can be expensive. But now you can get customizable contracts and release forms in Microsoft Word® created by the Photo Attorney specifically for photographers. Choose from the following forms:

Adult Model Release
Copyright Infringement Cease & Desist/Demand Letter
Copyright Transfer Form
DMCA Takedown Notice
Independent Assistant Photographer
Liability Release & Arbitration Agreement
Minor Model Release
Portrait Session Contract
Property Release
Stock Photography License with Terms and Conditions
Wedding Photography Contract
Settlement Agreement for Copyright Infringement Claims

– Photographer’s Legal Guide – Ebook or Softback versionsPhotographers Legal Guide

What’s being said about the Photographer’s Legal Guide:

“Carolyn Wright’s book is an essential tool for any professional (or aspiring professional) who needs to navigate the tricky legal issues in the business of photography. In clear, concise prose, she explains and simplifies the issues of rights and releases, and deciphers the “legal-ese” of contracts and other important legal issues into plain and simple language. Her background in law and her exceptional photographic work make her a unique resource in this business: a great legal mind with a wonderful photographer’s eye.”Bob Krist, columnist, Outdoor Photographer Magazine

“Carolyn Wright’s book is designed to acquaint you with all the basic formalities of running a photography business. This is a book that every photographer who is even considering selling their images should have!” Ellen Anon, freelance photographer and co-author of Aperture Exposed, The Mac Photographers Guide to Taming the Workflow, and Photoshop for Nature Photographers

“Carolyn’s writing style is easy to read and not full of ‘Law-talk.’ There is plenty to learn for a photographer in the business for 10 years (such as myself), and invaluable for someone completely new.” David Beckstead, International Wedding Photographer

“. . . a well done job with ‘Photographer’s Legal Guide.’  It literally answered just about every question I had.”  John L. Dengler, Outdoor Photographer

“Just a quick note to say thank you again for your book.  I’ve finally read it through – a great read and packed with valuable information.”  John T. Fowler

 “. . . thanks for writing the Photographer’s Legal Guide. I purchased it a while back and often go back to it, it’s priceless!”  Elena Sbrana

“Loving your book!  Easy to understand, a must for someone new in business and perfect for those of us who need an update with the changing times.  Will definitely recommend to other photographers.” Trina Jones

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Don’t Get Scammed

Northwestern crow (Corvus caurinus), flying, Ambleside Park, West Vancouver, British Columbia.

Scams are not limited to photographers, but some scams may prey on photographers’ desire to sell prints or license images. Check what happened to one talented photographer, Roberta Olenick.  She reports:

I got an email from someone wanting prints of two of my images. Turns out it was a scam that has been going on for some years now according to

The scammers say they want to buy your artwork and ask you to send them the price and your address and phone number so they can send payment to you. They then send way more than the amount owing on some trumped up excuse and ask you to refund them the difference via Western Union. Of course, funds sent that way can never be traced and the check they send you is always fraudulent and from a bank that can take some weeks before that is discovered. If you fall for this scam, they hope you send them the refund before you ever discover the fraudulence of their payment to you.

[In my case] I got an email from Daniel Lachlan late September asking for large prints of two of my photos. Something about his poor English (coupled with his very Anglo name) and the mention of him moving to Turkey made me suspicious so I googled his name at that time and nothing came up.

Fortunately for me, two things conspired to save me from his scamming, which I nearly fell for. First was that the images he requested were captured years ago on film and I was not sure they would upsize well to the large dimension he requested. And second was that when he first emailed I was just heading out of town on an extended photoshoot where I had no internet access. So I told him he would have to wait until I got back and that on my return I would make a test print of a small section of each image to see if they would work at the large size he requested. These two things together delayed my confirming any sale to him until after the name Daniel Lachlan came up on

He kept insisting repeatedly on getting my address and cell number so he could send payment even though I had not yet determined if the images he wanted would even print OK. That should have been a clue but I just ignored the uneasiness I was starting to feel.

He kept pushing to know the final price so he could send a certified check. I told him numerous times I needed his mailing address where I would be sending the prints so I could determine what shipping cost to add to the print cost; he kept resisting giving me his address yet insisting on me giving him mine. I just brushed that off as misunderstanding based on his poor English.

Eventually he explained there would be no shipping costs as his movers would pick up the prints directly from me. I thought that was strange – why would his movers come all the way to the other side of the country from where he claimed he lived just to pick up two prints? And really I was not at all comfortable with the idea of some strange “mover” coming to my studio just like that. But I still was not pegging him as a scammer. Boy, am I naïve!

So I went ahead and made the test prints. Very fortunately and as I had suspected, the image quality was not up to my preferred standard. But non-photographers are not as picky as I am, so I asked him to give me his mailing address so I could send him the small test proofs (at no charge) so he could judge for himself if he wanted me to proceed with making the final large prints.

When he responded that his mover would come by and examine the test prints to determine if they were good enough, then I really started to smell a rat. Who sends a “mover” to do that?! So I googled his name and email address again just now and thankfully came up with posts on

I was just about to pull the plug on any transaction with him anyway because all the annoying emailing back and forth and his general evasiveness were wearing me down and taking too much of my time to make it worth the income from the sale. But it never occurred to me that he was planning to scam me out of money until I read the posts on this site. So thank you thank you thank you.

Had he selected different images that would have printed well at the size he wanted, I would have made the prints and proceeded with “the sale”, though I would have insisted on waiting for the check to clear before handing over the prints to his “movers.”

Yup, paypal is the way to go!

The older posts on go way back. I stopped reading after I got to Oct, 2011. But still worth going through a lot of the older posts for hints and interesting nuggets of information. Often the thing about the scammer sending their movers or agents to get the item directly from you comes up much sooner that it did with me. Generally the scammer has some story that they are moving and want your work to make their new place look great. They often claim they overpaid you by mistake or they sent you a check to cover both the cost of your images and their movers’ fees. If the latter, they ask you to send the refund to their movers via Western Union or similar that is not traceable. They generally send the payment check to you via Fedex or similar because if they sent it via USPS that would automatically be a crime (mail fraud) whereas the same does not apply to sending via Fedex. Much more useful stuff like this on the link above if you dig around.

One interesting and subtle clue to these scams is that when the scammer signs their (made up) name at the end of an email to you, there is very often a period right after their name. This may be related to something about the batch way they target people, according to the link above. But no one real ever puts a period after their name like that.

Also it might be helpful to check the IP address of where they sent the email from compared to where they say they are located (though there are ways for them to disguise that). I didn’t know you could even do that til I read the link above but by then I had already deleted all of Daniel’s irritating emails.

I want to spread the word to help reduce the chances these scummy scammers get away with it. Also check Kathleen McMahon’s post on “Known Scammer Names used in Art-Related Email Scams.”

Roberta Olenick. (See, doesn’t that look strange with a period after my name?)

Thanks, Roberta and Kathleen, for working to protect artists!

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