Photo Attorney

Apr 24, 2008

Q&A - Registering Your Copyrights

It is dangerous to register your copyrights incorrectly. The first thing that an infringer will do is to attempt to invalidate your registration. You might as well keep your $45/$35 and spend your time shooting if you're not going to take the time to register your photos correctly.

You must separate your registrations by published and unpublished photos. According to the US Copyright Office, for your unpublished photos, you may register them by collections:

Under the following conditions, a work may be registered in unpublished form as a "collection," with one application form and one fee:

  • The elements of the collection are assembled in an orderly form;
  • The combined elements bear a single title identifying the collection as a whole;
  • The copyright claimant in all the elements and in the collection as a whole is the same; and
  • All the elements are by the same author, or, if they are by different authors, at least one of the authors has contributed copyrightable authorship to each element.
For your published photos, you must separate the registrations by calendar year published (see #2 on this US Copyright Office page)

As the Copyright Office states, you must send:
  1. a correctly completed application Form VA or Short Form VA. Follow the instructions for completing Form VA as provided on the Form GR/PPh/CON.
  2. A completed Form GR/PPh/CON.
You must normally use [Form GR/PPh/CON] if the date of publication is not identified on each of the deposited images. However, use of this form is optional if the images you are registering were all published within the 3-month period immediately prior to the date of receipt of your application, or if each of the deposited images published within a calendar year contains a specific date of publication. If you choose to use Form GR/PPh/CON, you are limited to 50 continuation sheets and 750 photographs on any one application.

Further, as ASMP explains,

"Fortunately, there are alternative ways of registering a large group that do not use the continuation form. As explained in the Copyright Office's formal regulation on the subject, you may instead:

  • Submit a group of photographs published within three months before receipt in the Copyright Office and give the range of dates within that period on the application for registration at space 3b; or
  • Submit a group of photographs published within a calendar year, give the range of dates within that period on the application for registration at space 3b, and identify with each deposited image the date of its publication.
The regulation goes on to clarify that, if you elect not to use continuation sheets, the date of publication may be provided in any of three different ways:

  1. directly on each deposited image,
  2. in a text file on the CD-ROM or DVD that contains the deposited photographic images, or
  3. on a list that accompanies the deposit.
Dates of publication must be provided in a way that clearly identifies the date of publication for each individual photograph in the group."

Read it, learn it, do it!!!