Seeking Applicants for Columbia-Cravath Copyright Clinic

From the Copyright Alliance:

For the past several years the Copyright Alliance has been a proud partner of the Columbia-Cravath Copyright Dispute Pro Bono Clinic.  Each fall semester the law firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore LLP and law students enrolled in Columbia University provide free legal representation to individuals and small businesses in lawsuits involving cutting edge copyright issues.

To assist the Clinic, the Copyright Alliance reaches out to individual creators and small businesses in all disciplines to solicit for candidates for the program. In addition to having a copyright dispute that is new and ripe for litigation, for a dispute to be accepted by the Clinic it should present an interesting copyright issue, the resolution of which would benefit the creative community. Critically, candidates should be located in the New York City area and be unable to afford legal services.

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please go to, where you will find both the application requirements and an application. Because the Clinic only takes a limited number of clients each semester, applications do not guarantee representation.

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Copyright Office Announces Open Application Period for Ringer Fellowships

The Barbara A. Ringer Copyright Honors Program offers 18 to 24-month paid fellowships for recent law school graduates and other attorneys in the early stages of their careers. Candidates must have a strong interest in copyright law and a demonstrated record of achievement in law school or in practice.

Ringer Fellows are closely mentored by senior attorneys and work on a range of copyright-related issues, including policy studies and analyses, administrative proceedings, legislative initiatives, litigation matters, and international developments.

Applications for the Ringer Honors Program are being accepted from August 1 through October 17, 2016. For more information, including how to apply, please visit the Barbara A. Ringer Copyright Honors Program page.

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Sign the Copyright Alliance’s Open Letter to 2016 Political Candidates

Dear Creators,

As election season grows closer and important copyright issues take center stage, please sign our letter reminding candidates of the vital role that copyright, free expression, creativity and innovation continue to play in our lives.

There is no “left” or “right” when it comes to respecting copyright. The creative community stands united in support of a copyright system that has made and continues to make the United States the global leader in the creative arts and the global paradigm for free expression. Our copyright system is not perfect but, like democracy, it is better than the alternatives. It works.

We urge candidates to universally resist attempts to erode the right of creators to determine when and how they share their works in the global marketplace.

Read and sign the letter we’ve written here. Make your voice heard on these important matters. #YourVoiceForCopyright


Keith Kupferschmid
CEO, Copyright Alliance

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YIKES! Photos Go Into Public Domain for Entering Photo Contest

Copyright Carolyn E Wright

The Tahoe National Forest is a beautiful area of the world, so it’s natural for photographers to document it. The Tahoe National Forest Service (“TNFS”) is looking to capitalize on that desire by running a photo contest to use the “best Tahoe National Forest photos to feature on our website and other publications.”

Unfortunately, the TNFS rules state:

Every photo entry received as part of the contest becomes property of the Tahoe National Forest and will be considered as public domain to prevent copyright infringement. The forest will have non-exclusive, unlimited use of the photo(s).

But this doesn’t make sense. The TNFS can’t own a photo and it be considered public domain. Either way, the photographers who submit their photos to the contest lose, unless you want to give the TNFS (and other federal agencies, forest partners, and media) the right:

to reproduce, prepare derivative works of, distribute or display and use these materials in whole or in part, for government and non-government purposes, in any manner or media (whether now existing or created in the future), in perpetuity, and in all languages throughout the world. Use of this material shall include, but not be limited to, audiovisual programs, museum exhibits, websites, publications, product artwork, and project publicity.

And you give TNFS these rights without any guarantee of credit (unless you earn 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place) and payment. Otherwise, stay far away from this rights grab.

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$200 for Innocent Infringement? Not so fast.

Highway to St George - Copyright Carolyn E. Wright

17 USC 504(c)(2) of the Copyright Act provides:

In a case where the infringer sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that such infringer was not aware and had no reason to believe that his or her acts constituted an infringement of copyright, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of statutory damages to a sum of not less than $200.

Known as “innocent infringement,” this is often one of the excuses that an infringer will assert. But it’s tough to prove, as discussed here and here.

Even when an infringer proves innocent infringement, it’s rare that the court will reduce damages to $200. As reported in the recent White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages issued by the Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force (Jan. 2016), only two courts in four decades have reduced the statutory damages to $200 for innocent infringement (see pp. 83-84 and footnote 504). Plus, the copyright owner may recover attorneys’ fees.

A copyright owner also has the option to select actual instead of statutory damages, which usually is the ordinary license fee plus the infringer’s profits from the infringing use. Actual damages may be much more than statutory damages, such as here. Check this chart for more information.

So don’t be so quick to accept an infringer’s offer to pay only $200 for an infringement.

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Watch Photo Attorney Courses on Apple TV has long been a great resource for photographers. Now get access to this great content, including the Photo Attorney courses (Photography and the Law: Understanding Copyright and Photography and the Law: Photographers’ Rights and Releases), on Apple TV!  Learn how to get connected on the blog.

Need a membership?  Get your free 10-day trial to here.

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Good Tip on Registering Groups of Photographs

Steve Martin - © 2010 David Oppenheimer

Steve Martin – © 2010 David Oppenheimer

Most photographers realize the importance of registering the copyrights to your photographs. What’s also important is to register them correctly and to maximize the potential for damages if infringed.

David Oppenheimer is a professional photographer who shoots a lot and regularly registers his work. David recently reviewed the Compendium, including where it discusses statutory damages:

For example, when a website consisting predominantly of photographs is registered as a compilation, a court may issue only one award of statutory damages for all the photographs covered by that registration. That is not necessarily the case, however, if the photographs are (i) unpublished and are registered as an unpublished collection (if no selection or arrangement is claimed), or (ii) are published and are registered using the group registration option for groups of published photographs. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.3(b)(4), (b)(10). Thus, if the applicant only intents (sic) to register individual works on a website, such as an unpublished collection of photographs the applicant may want to include a statement in the application that the claimant claims no authorship in the selection, coordination, and/or arrangement of works within the website. When completing an online application this statement may be provided in the Note to Copyright Office field. 

Compendium Section 1008.7

David therefore included this note with his most recent registration of unpublished photos:

Individual works are being registered as an unpublished collection with no authorship claimed to the selection, coordination, and/or arrangement of the individual unpublished works being registered.

The registration specialist at the Copyright Office told him it was a good idea.  Way to go, David!

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U.S. Copyright Office World IP Day Program on April 26

For the fifth year in a row, the U.S. Copyright Office will join with the Copyright Alliance for a Copyright Matters program in recognition of World Intellectual Property Day. This year’s theme, as announced by the World Intellectual Property Organization, is “Digital Creativity: Culture Reimagined.” The program will take place on Tuesday, April 26, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (EDT) in the Mumford Room (6th Floor, James Madison Memorial Building, Library of Congress).

The program will feature remarks from Congressman Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, and Keith Kupferschmid, chief executive officer of the Copyright Alliance. The program will celebrate creativity as it presents itself in our interconnected digital world. It also will highlight established creators who have mastered their crafts and who have created innovative revenue streams to pay fellow creators fairly. The panelists will share their thoughts about the value of copyright law in our digital world and provide suggestions on “what’s next.”

Event panelists include:

Jared Geller, executive producer of the open-collaborative production company HITRECORD. Anna Metcalfe, ceramic artist and founder of the wedding registry Gather, which enables guests to give local art for wedding gifts. Chase Jarvis, photographer and founder and chief executive officer of CreativeLive, the world’s largest live streaming education company focused on photography, video, design, music, and entrepreneurship education.

Internationally celebrated on April 26, World Intellectual Property Day marks the date in 1970 when the World Intellectual Property Organization Convention came into force. The anniversary of this occasion is observed as a way of promoting and increasing general understanding of intellectual property.

The program is free and open to the public. Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or

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