Photo Attorney

Dec 25, 2006

Photographer's Legal Guide Now Shipping!

My book, the Photographer's Legal Guide, is now shipping. You may order your autographed copy here.

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 shares the legal aspects of photography in an accessible volume of inside tips. Whether you are an experienced photographer already in business, starting a new photography business, or just a weekend shutterbug, you'll find essential information here." M. Diane Vogt, Esq., multi-published writer, including Keeping Good Lawyers: Best Practices for Career Satisfaction

"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

Take my advice; get professional help.

Dec 22, 2006

Five Free Copyright Registration Resources

Most photographers recognize the importance of registering their copyrights with the US Copyright Office. The registration process is straightforward for most situations. But if you don't do it correctly, your registration can be delayed or later determined to be invalid. Fortunately, there are five free great resources to help you get your registrations done right.

  1. The U.S. Copyright Office has a lot of information on its website.
  2. I've got several posts on copyright registration here on the PhotoAttorney blog. Scan down the right column to find the Google search bar or click here to find blogs on your areas of interest. I also have prepared a primer on the steps to register your copyrights.
  3. The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) has an extensive tutorial available to the public.
  4. You may call the Visual Arts Section of the Examining Division of the Copyright Office directly at 202-707-8202. While the Copyright Office's guidance is not binding on a court of law, the Office's representatives have an excellent understanding of the Copyright Act.
  5. You may contact via email John H. Ashley (jash(at) of the Copyright Office with your questions on registration. So that we don't inundate the Copyright Office, please first review the available written information and contact the Office only for difficult or unusual circumstances.

Make a new year's resolution that you will keep - register your copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office. With these free resources, it's easier than trying to lose those 10 extra pounds.

Take my advice; get professional help.

Technorati Tags: ,

Dec 16, 2006

Contracts via Email - The Law on Electronic Records and Signatures

Photographers often make deals via email. But are these electronic documents legally enforceable? Probably.

The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act ("UETA") provides a legal framework for electronic transactions. It gives electronic signatures and records the same validity and enforceability as manual signatures and paper-based transactions.

Generally, a contract may be in any memorandum form, including electronic mail. It is "signed" by any mark, written, stamped or engraved, that demonstrates the intent to agree to the contract. The UETA specifically provides that an "Electronic Signature" is an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record. So you can "sign" a document electronically and thus make a contract via email.

You can determine whether your state has adopted the UETA here. As of the time of this writing, only Georgia, Illinois, New York, and Washington had not enacted the Act. However, these states do have laws recognizing electronic signatures. For example, Georgia's law on electronic documents and signatures can be found at OCGA 10-12-4. It states that:

(a) Records and signatures shall not be denied legal effect or validity solely on the grounds that they are electronic.
(b) In any legal proceeding, an electronic record or electronic signature shall not be inadmissible as evidence solely on the basis that it is electronic.
(c) When a rule of law requires a writing, an electronic record satisfies that rule of law.
(d) When a rule of law requires a signature, an electronic signature satisfies that rule of law.
(e) When a rule of law requires an original record or signature, an electronic record or electronic signature shall satisfy such rule of law.

If you don't want your email to constitute a contract, you can include the following language:

This communication does not reflect an intention by the sender or the sender's client or principal to conduct a transaction or make any agreement by electronic means. Nothing contained in this message or in any attachment shall satisfy the requirements for a writing and nothing contained herein shall constitute a contract or electronic signature under the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, any version of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act or any other statute governing electronic transactions.

Additional information about making contracts via email is available in my "Battle of the Forms" blog here.

Technology has given photographers additional power and control. Make sure you use it wisely.

Take my advice; get professional help.

Technorati Tags: ,

Dec 8, 2006

Digital Imaging Management Guidelines - UPDIG

These days, photographers usually send digital files to clients when licensing their photos. But without a transparency or reference print to provide a method for color management, the photographer may lose creative and quality control of the photos. Fortunately, something is being done about it.

The UPDIG Working Group is an ad-hoc industry consortium of digital imaging professionals and allied trade groups and manufacturers dedicated to promoting worldwide standards in the commercial application of digital imaging. Its mission is to bring the creators, distributors, customers, and other vendors in the imaging trades together to identify and promote digital imaging standards.

UPDIG's guidelines - along with its "Best Practices" documents - aim to clarify issues affecting accurate reproduction and management of digital image files. The guidelines have three primary goals:

1. Digital images look the same as they transfer between devices, platforms and vendors.
2. Digital images are prepared in the correct resolution, at the correct size, for the device(s) on which they will be viewed or printed.
3. Digital images have metadata embedded that conforms to the IPTC standards, making the images searchable, providing usage and contact information, and stating their creators or copyright owners.

UPDIG's 11th guideline suggests that:

All digital image files should have embedded metadata - including copyright, usage license and contact information - that conforms to the IPTC or the newer IPTC Core standards. Photoshop users can input and edit this information by choosing "File Info" under the File menu. Adding caption, title, origin and keyword data enhances searches and organization with digital asset management applications.

This guideline is especially important in light of the Orphan Works Legislation under consideration.

UPDIG also recognizes the need to specify the terms of use of photos. It suggests in its 12th guideline that photographers:

Provide a ReadMe file in either .PDF, .HTML, or .TXT format with all files delivered for output. Such files should specify image size(s), color space(s) and any licenses granted, the copyright owner's contact information and, if certain rights are being withheld, the words "other uses, reproduction or distribution are specifically prohibited." The ReadMe file should also include disclaimers noting recipients are responsible for following an ICC-based color management workflow.

Technology has provided new opportunities for photographers to show their work. Using UPDIG's standards will help to make sure that the photos are seen the way they are meant to be.

Take my advice; get professional help.

Technorati Tags: ,

Dec 1, 2006

One Big Annoying Problem

It's hard enough for photographers to get decent payment for what they do. But when journalists and magazine editors - those who should be sympathetic to copyright owners - advocate infringement, they've gone too far.

Here's the disturbing story: Stacey Bradford who holds a masters degree in journalism from NYU published an article on suggesting that parents save money by scanning and printing school photographs to send to relatives instead of buying additional prints. The article also was posted on AOL's news page.

Many photographers saw the article and sent protesting emails to Bradford and the online magazines. (I sent one volunteering to be a consultant for an article on copyright law.) The Professional Photographers of America (PPA) led a formal charge and first contacted the author, the editorial staff, and finally SmartMoney's corporate attorneys.

AOL responded quickly by removing the article from its website. Unfortunately, while it may be difficult to find the post on, it's still there.

This highlights our big annoying problem - people either don't understand or don't respect photographers' copyrights. The record and movie industries have been more successful in teaching users to not copy music or movies. School systems teach students to not plagiarize. But there is a gaping hole when it comes to the copyright respect for photographers.

What can you do? Teach your clients to understand what they can do with your images using explicit licenses. Join professional photography organizations to synergize efforts to protect your work. And protest loudly when you hear someone advocate infringement of photographs.

Take my advice; get professional help.

Technorati Tags: ,