Photo Attorney

Oct 29, 2007

Revised Proposed NYC Photography Rules Improved

The New York City Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB) has released its revised proposal for requiring permits for photography. The good news is that the guidelines are based on whether the photography activities create congestion or unsafe conditions rather than on the number of people or the time spent in one area. The use of tripods and other handheld equipment is not a consideration as long as photographer leaves open at least half of the public walkway.

Of special note is the comment by the MOFTB (as reported by the New York Times) that its officials "were surprised to learn how frequently independent and casual filmmakers and photographers were drawn into confrontations with building owners and the police over their rights to record." Gee - it's about time!

Oct 28, 2007

Upcoming Speaking Engagement and Book Review

Speaking Engagement
The Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar
November 30-December 1, 2007
Atlanta Marriott Gwinnett Place, Duluth, GA

Book Review of Photographer's Legal Guide
by Scott at Weekly Photo Tips

Oct 23, 2007

The Costs of Copyright Infringement

The Institute for Policy Innovation recently released its study on "The True Cost of Copyright Industry Piracy to the U.S. Economy," finding that copyright infringement "costs the U.S. economy $58.0 billion in total output, costs American workers 373,375 jobs and $16.3 billion in earnings, and costs federal, state, and local governments $2.6 billion in tax revenue." Unfortunately, photography, while mentioned, was not among the primary industries considered.

In sum, if you make your photographs available to others, you will likely be infringed. What can you do in response?

1. Educate others, not just your clients, about photographers' rights.
2. Make it difficult to infringe (and be eligible for more damages when infringed) by putting a water mark with your copyright management information on your photos.
3. Register your photographs so that you are eligible for statutory damages when you are infringed.

Take my advice; get professional help.

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Oct 21, 2007

Call for Release of Photographer - Bilal Hussein

Bilal Hussein, an AP photographer and Iraqi national, was arrested by U.S. soldiers in Ramadi, Iraq, on April 12, 2006, for being a "security threat." As explained by Reporters Without Borders, Hussein is still being held at Camp Cropper in Baghdad while he waits to be brought before a judge. More information and an online petition is available from The Free Bilal Committee, a group of photojournalists and journalists from around the world.

Oct 20, 2007

Fujifilm Makes Ghoulish Copyright Grab!

Fujifilm, U.S.A., is sponsoring its "Picture Perfect Halloween Contest" again this year. Unfortunately, the Terms and Conditions include a link to the "Customer Image Release" that provides:
The Sponsor or its designees shall have complete ownership of the Image, including copyright interests, and User acknowledges that once the Image is submitted, User will have no interest or ownership in the Image or its copyright.
This blatant transfer of your copyright is enough to make one run screaming!

Kudos to Jenny Swanson for reading all of the terms and conditions before entering this contest!

Oct 18, 2007

Informative Copyright Presentation

Nancy E. Wolff, counsel to the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA) and the American Society of Picture Professionals' (ASPP) "2007 Picture Professional of the Year," has prepared an excellent downloadable Power Point presentation that covers the basics of copyright, including some interesting illustrative cases. PACA has made the presentation available to the public for the purpose of educating users of images and visual artists. Be sure to read and use the slide notes for additional information about copyright law.

Thanks to Randall S. Mar for submitting this topic.

Oct 14, 2007

The Digital Photography Show Interviews PhotoAttorney

Scott Sherman of The Digital Photography Show and guest co-host, Landya McCafferty, interviewed PhotoAttorney this past week. Landya quizzed Scott on my August 17, 2006, blog - "10 Common Misconceptions of the Law for Photographers." Scott says of the podcast:
Carolyn is a terrific interview: interesting, articulate and accessible. The topics she discusses are ones you'll want to know about. . . .

It's really fascinating stuff, and I have to say, Carolyn explains everything so clearly that by the end of the quiz I was doing better because I had a (very) basic understanding of how the law looks at these issues.

You may download the show at The Digital Photography Show website.

Thanks to Landya for recommending me for the interview!

Take my advice; get professional help.

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Oct 8, 2007

Business Organizations for Photographers

As photographers' businesses grow, they often want or need to adopt a formal structure. Since the organizations are dictated by state law, they may vary a bit by state. The options often include a "C" corp, an "S" corp, an "LLC," and a sole proprietorship. But how do you decide what is best for you?

Most states' websites provide good background information on the business entities they allow. To find your state's offerings, conduct an Internet search using a good search engine such as Google to find your state's Secretary of State's website. Search on your state's name (such as "Georgia") and the words: "secretary of state." The extension of the url will be ".gov" or ".us." Be careful - some websites attempt to appear to be the state's website so that they can charge you extra for the information and for registering your business. Once on your state's secretary of state's website, look for "corporations," "business organizations," or "business entities."

For example, here are the business organization websites for Texas, Virginia, New York, and California.

After you do your preliminary research to get a basic understanding of the business structure options, you next should talk with your accountant and/or your attorney. Since each photographer's business and personal circumstances are different, you'll need professional assistance to learn what business structure will work best for you.

Take my advice; get professional help.

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Oct 3, 2007

Update: Help Needed to Fight Right of Publicity Bill

As previously reported in my July 22, 2007, blog, a proposed bill will make drastic changes to California's right of publicity statute. If it passes, photographers may lose rights to license photographs of certain deceased persons.

USA Today covered the story yesterday and Daryl Lang from PDN has prepared a comparison of the existing and proposed law.

Leading opponents of the bill, including the ASMP and APA, ran an ad in the Capital Weekly this week. It explains the concerns of the bill. In sum, the bill has no public benefit and only hands a windfall to one company.

The bill is on Governor Arnold Schwarznegger's desk for his signature or veto by October 14. Let him know that you oppose SB771 by sending him an email.