Photo Attorney

Nov 8, 2006

Free (and Good) Information for Photographers

The internet is a tremendous source of information - some good and some bad. Some really good (and free) information is available through Yahoo groups, such as APANet, ASMPproAdvice, and STOCKPHOTO, as well as the ASMP website itself.

Take, for example, this recent post from Judy Herrmann, an accomplished professional photographer, on APANet in response to the following question:

When does simple slow- or non-payment of an invoice become a case for copyright infringement when the images are being used without payment?

Hi John -

Vic Perlman (an IP Attorney that's worked for ASMP for the past 12 years) and I just gave a seminar at Photo Plus, Business Practices for the Digital Age, in which we addressed this exact issue.

If your license agreement and/or terms and conditions explicitly state that the licensing of the usage rights is contingent upon full payment of your invoice, then non-payment of your invoice constitutes copyright infringement. If it doesn't, then you're most likely looking at a contract dispute.

If your estimates and invoices do not include that language, start using it right away!

Remember, that any copyright infringement suit lacks teeth unless the images were registered with the US copyright office before the infringement occurred.

The only exception to this is if the images were legitimately published (publication by an infringer doesn't count) and you registered them within 3 months of initial publication. In that case only, you'll still be protected against an infringement that occurred between the date of first publication and the date that you registered the images. Again, though, you only get this protection if you really did register the images as published works within 3 months of first publication.

In the meantime, even if your terms don't include this language, you can send them a cease and desist letter that could prompt them to settlement. Be sure to have an attorney draft or at least review the letter as a poorly worded cease and desist letter can ruin your chances for bringing a future successful suit in the matter.

Hope this helps!
Judy Herrmann

H E R R M A N N + S T A R K E L L C
d i g i t a l p h o t o g r a p h y
410-203-2440 ph. 410-203-2448 fax

Some of the best things in life are free. Just make sure that they are trustworthy.

Take my advice; get professional help.
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