Photo Attorney

Jan 30, 2008

Outdoors Photo Contest Rules Change - GREAT!

As a follow up to my previous post on the Great Outdoors Photo Contest, a representative from National Geographic called to advise that the rules have been revised.

They have changed the licensing to:

By participating, all entrants grant the Sponsors and their designees, licensees or affiliates (the "Authorized Parties") a license for use in connection with The Great Outdoors Photo Contest and promotion of The Great Outdoors Photo Contest, in any media now or hereafter known, including but not limited to: publication in PDN and/or Traveler magazines showcasing the winners; exhibit of the work at the PhotoPlus Expo 2008; The Great Outdoors Photo Contest live gallery; the Great Outdoors Photo Contest Web site and on and; and in exhibits and promotions related to the Great Outdoors Photo Contest. Such license is a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual license to reproduce, distribute, display and create derivative works of the entries (along with a name credit). Authorized Parties will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such use.

You no longer are giving the Sponsors an RF license AND you get a photo credit when they publish your photo. The tracked changes in the rules may be seen here. That's GREAT news and it's now a contest worth entering!

Thanks to PDN and National Geographic Traveler for listening and responding to photographers!

Jan 29, 2008

Presidential Candidates' Positions on IP

William New of the Intellectual Property Watch has summarized the views of several U.S. presidential candidates on intellectual property issues. He reports that, "The role of the Internet in alleged intellectual property infringement, especially of copyrighted music and video content, has been most frequently discussed." Hopefully, one day photography will be specifically included in the discussions.

Jan 27, 2008

Alert: Photographers Should Expect To Be Questioned in the UK

As reported by the Amateur Photographer, the UK Police warn: "Any person who appears to be taking photos in a covert manner should expect to be stopped and spoken to by police to enquire into what their business is." Nevermind that it's legal to shoot in a public place in the UK.

Jan 26, 2008

Pay to Play in Photo Contest

PDN, National Geographic Traveler, and others are sponsoring "The Great Outdoors" photo contest. If you win, you win big - a trip to Hawaii, a professional camera and equipment package, and/or a Photoserve portfolio. Winners also will be published in the July PDN issue in print and online. Nice!

But it comes at a price. The rules provide that your:

Entries may be published by Sponsors and/or their designees, licensees or affiliates (the "Authorized Parties") in magazines, on websites, or in any other medium, at Authorized Parties' discretion. By participating, all entrants grant a license in the Entries to the Authorized Parties, and acknowledge that any Authorized Party may use the entries and a name credit in any media now or hereafter known, without restriction, including commercially using the entries to the fullest extent possible worldwide in perpetuity. Authorized Parties will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such use.

In sum, this means that the Sponsors could grant a license to anyone or any company to use your photo in any manner for free. There is no promise that your photo credit will be included with the use.

And there's a fee to enter the contest, to boot. Pay to get someone else to use your photo for free? That seems too high a price to pay.

Jan 24, 2008

"What the Duck" Contest - Opportunity For Photographers

Aaron Johnson, author/creator of the wonderful "What the Duck" cartoon is sponsoring a contest for WTD merchandise ideas. The Duck would make a great ambassador for photographers' rights, informing others in a non-confrontational way that we have the right to shoot buildings and bridges, to not steal our photos from our websites, and the like. So submit your clever ideas, cast your votes, and inform the world of our rights!

Batch Processing of Your Photos for Copyright Registration and Adding Metadata

During my interview with Photo Talk Radio last week, I mentioned Bert Krages' Photoshop Action to batch process your photos (reduce their file size) for copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office. He also provides steps to add copyright notice metadata to your photo files. You may find these actions on his website.

Thanks, Bert!

Jan 21, 2008

Photo Attorney on Photo Talk Radio

Howard Lipin and Michael A. Garcia of Photo Talk Radio interviewed Photo Attorney about the ways you can protect your photography and other legal issues for photographers. You may download the interview from the Photo Talk Radio website.

For previous interviews of Photo Attorney available online, check the The Digital Photography Show and the Photofocus archives.

Jan 17, 2008

Alert: Hallmark Gets RF Images In Contest

Hallmark is sponsoring a pet photo contest. By submitting an entry in the contest, the rules state that you:

grant to Hallmark a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed for the full term of any Rights that may exist in such Content.

In addition, "you release Hallmark from any and all claims, liability or causes of action arising from or related to the Content, and you will not be entitled to any compensation from Hallmark with respect to your entry or the Content other than as provided to winners of the Contest."

In sum, Hallmark get a lot of RF photos for very little money. Something stinks.

Jan 15, 2008

Good News on the Ford Front

Looks as though the Black Mustang Club will get their calendar after all.

Thanks for the update, Darryl!

Does Ford Own the Copyright in Your Photos?

According to the Black Mustang Club ["BMC"], the Ford Motor Company warned Cafe Press that the BMC's "calendar pics (and our club's event logos - anything with one of our cars in it) infringes on Ford's trademarks which include the use of images of THEIR vehicles." The founder/owner of the BMC website states that, "Ford claims that all the images, logos and designs OUR graphics team made for the BMC events using [the founder's car] are theirs as well." The BMC therefore is not going to produce its annual calendar featuring members' photos of their cars. More background is available on and

This has led some to report that Ford is claiming copyright in all photos of Mustangs. While the letter from Ford's attorneys is not available, Ford likely is claiming only that the calendar infringes or dilutes Ford's trademarks. Cafe Press may be reacting this way to avoid litigation. Nevertheless, this caused confusion about what rights Ford may have.

Intellectual Property ("IP") is property for which the owner has specific legal rights, just like your car, house, and camera equipment. But IP is intangible; you cannot touch it. IP includes copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets. While similar, these types of IP have distinct differences. The two at issue here are copyrights and trademarks. Copyright is a legal form of protection granted by the U.S. Constitution for original works that include literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and photographic works. Copyright gives the author or creator the exclusive "right" to "copy" the original work.

Trademarks or servicemarks allow people to identify the source of goods or services, not the products or services themselves. When people see a recognizable trademark, they know where the product came from or who is providing the service. Trademarks can be names, symbols, packaging, the shape of a product, the colors of a product, the sounds, or scents associated with the product, or any combination of these.

My previous blogs dated November 18, 2006 and April 23, 2005 have addressed concerns about including trademarks in photographs. When the law is applied to this situation, Ford clearly has no copyright claim to your photographs of its cars. Ford may have a trademark infringement claim if your photo of its product causes confusion as to the source of the product or dilutes the trademark by blurring or tarnishment. This is for the lawyers to debate or for the courts to decide.

Ford may be short-sighted in its action because the public response has been negative. It's true that trademark owners must protect their trademarks to some extent or they risk losing the protection (for example, aspirin and escalator used to be trademarks that lost their protection - that's why Xerox wants you to make a photocopy, why Adobe wants you to edit (not "photoshop") an image, and why you are asked whether a Pepsi, rather than the Coke you ordered, is ok). However, it's doubtful that Ford would lose trademark protection for Mustang because of a club's calendar.

Thanks to Darryl Cannon, Walter Rowe, Steven Joerger, and John Williams for the submission of this topic.

Take my advice; get professional help.

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Jan 11, 2008

NANPA Clarifies Proposed Regulations for Photographing on Federal Land

The North American Nature Photography Association ("NANPA") has been following the progress of proposed Interior Department regulations under Public Law 106-206 following the House Natural Resources Committee hearing held on the issue in December (as also previously reported here). NANPA's President, Kathy Adams Clark, had an email exchange with Lee Dickinson, Special Parks Uses Program Manager for the National Parks Service. NANPA distributed the exchange to its members (including me) and it is reproduced below (with permission).

Q: Is the proposed rule's intent to standardize procedures and the collection of fees for Department of Interior (DOI) agencies?
A: The intent is to provide uniform criteria where a permit will probably be needed. Since the Federal lands are so different, there are occasions where one agency might require a permit when another would not. One example that is cited frequently is wedding photography. On most BLM land a permit would not be needed. But at the Lincoln Memorial, a national park unit here in DC, a permit would be needed to try to avoid conflict between our many visitors and other permitted activities such as marathons, walk-a-thons, rallies and demonstrations. Location fees would be uniform between the agencies, based on a location fee schedule that is still being developed. Location fees only apply if a permit is needed. The more people associated with the photography activity and the more days the activity uses Federal lands, the higher the location fee. Cost recovery would be based on the actual cost to the agency of processing and monitoring the activity.

Q: Will the criteria that trigger a photography permit change?
A: If a person is using models, sets, or props, requesting special access, etc., they would need a permit. The law and the subsequent regulation really just uses the criteria that were included in Secretary Lujan's memo back in the early 1990s. Again, most photographers should not need a permit.

Q: Will this rule in any way affect the amateur photographer entering DOI land and photographing for their own enjoyment?
A: It does not matter whether the individual considers themselves a talented amateur or a professional. If they enter the park, remain in areas open to the public and do not use models, sets or props, they will not need a permit. Additionally, there are sometimes restrictions that apply to all photographers. For example, in a historic building managed by the National Park Service, we frequently don't allow tripods, since the space is limited and the tripod presents a trip hazard to others. That's not a restriction on professional photographers, but photographers in general. If a person wanted to use a tripod in this situation, they would probably need to apply for a permit and shoot their shot before or after public hours so as not to interfere with other visitors.

Q: Would this rule affect a professional photographer entering DOI land and photographing if they were not using models, props, sets, requesting special access, etc.? For example, if someone shot photographs from a car or on trails in a wildlife refuge for possible use in an upcoming book.
A: Same answer as above. If a photographer is a visitor to a park, they don't need a permit. A permit is required when special circumstances kick in, such as models, sets or props, or requesting access to a closed area. If you wanted to get a picture of the sun rising over the dunes at White Sands National Memorial, a photographer would need a permit, because the park does not open until 8 am.

Q: Would this rule affect a professional photographer shooting a story for a magazine if they were not using models, props, sets, requesting special access, etc.?
A: Same answer as above.

Q: Did the proposed rule pass?
A: The regulation that appeared in the Federal Register was a draft regulation open for public comment. The job now is to take the public comments received and discuss them, either incorporating the suggested changes into the draft, or drafting a response to the comment explaining why the comment was not adopted. We received about 50 comments. The process will take at least six months, and involve folks from three agencies and the Department of the Interior.

Thanks, NANPA!

Jan 9, 2008

Q&A - Registering Published and Unpublished Photos

Q. If I am registering thousands of images with some published and some not published, do each of the images need to be named? How should they be broken out on the application? Should we complete multiple VA forms for each collection or category of work?

A. Most photographers can use the "Short Form VA" to register their photos.

You must submit separate applications to register your published photos and your unpublished photos. Your registrations for published photos must be separated by those photos published in different calendar years - that is, you must submit one registration for your photos published in 2007 and another registration for your photos published in 2006, etc. You also may register your photos in subsets of these required groupings at your discretion.

When registering your published photos, you must record the publication date and nation of publication for each photo. You can list your published photos with this information on the Group Registration of Published Photographs Continuation Sheet that requires some naming system for your photos or include the requested info in the metadata for each photo.

When registering unpublished photos, you only need to name the collection of the photos you are registering - it's much easier!

Snapshots Are Now Grabshots - The Web Free-For-All?

The Washington Post has a good article on the rampant unauthorized use of photos posted on the web by companies who should know better.

HT to John Harrington.

Jan 8, 2008

Copyright Registration - Easy as 1-2-3!

You must register your copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office to be eligible for statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringing use when willful on the part of the defendant. Fortunately, it's easy to do. The Copyright Office website provides explanation of the three easy steps. For more information, check my primer on how to register your copyrights.

Jan 6, 2008

Photography Not Allowed - 5

The Daily Mail reports that grandparents were asked to leave a United Kingdom shopping center for taking photos of their grandchildren there.

Thanks to Jason Campbell for submitting this topic.