Photo Attorney

Nov 9, 2005

Posting Photos on Website = Published?

Many photographers post their images on the web. Are those images "published" for purposes of copyright registration? It depends.

You have published your copyright when you distribute copies of your work to the public by sale, lending, or leasing. Publication also includes the offering to distribute copies of your work to others for the purpose of further distribution. Display of a work without more does not in of itself constitute publication.

The courts have not spoken directly on whether posting a photo on a website constitutes publication. But it should not make a difference that the photo is posted on the internet as opposed to displaying a print. In other words, it is not the act of putting a photograph on a website, but the intent of the posting of the image, that is the determining factor that a photo is published. If it appears that you are offering to license the image or sell a print of the photo from your website, it likely would be classified as published. If you are posting your image only to share it with others, without any obvious intent to sell or further distribute it, it may not be deemed published.

It will not hurt you to register an image as published even if it is later determined not to be published (except for the extra registration work). It CAN hurt you to register an image as unpublished when it is later determined to be published.

Whatever you do, register your copyrights for the most protection.

Take my advice; get professional help.