Photo Attorney

Feb 25, 2008

Report: Copyright Victory by Stock Photographer!

Chris Gregerson, who represented himself, recently was awarded $19,462 in a copyright infringement case, including damages for removal of his copyright management information. The court's order tells an interesting tale of the apparent long and contentious battle Chris fought to protect his work.

Congrats, Chris!

Thanks to Ran Reitz for submitting this topic.

Feb 20, 2008

Update: Lawsuit on Use of Trademarks in Art

The lawsuit by the University of Alabama against Daniel Moore for using the UA's trademarks in his paintings continues after three years this March. As reported in my earlier blog on January 6, 2006, Moore is making good on his promise to not settle the matter if it infringes on his (and, as a result, our) First Amendment rights. You can hear an 2005 interview of Moore discussing the lawsuit on All Things Considered.

The Tuscaloosa News is reporting that mediation efforts have failed. The judge is now turning the case over to a special master for recommendations for possible rulings in the case. The case still may go to a jury to resolve fact issues.

Kudos to Moore for fighting for artist's rights.

Feb 16, 2008

Q&A - Copyright Registration Issues

Q. Are images posted on a website considered "published" for registration purposes?
A. The courts have not spoken directly on whether images on a website are considered "published" for copyright registration. It may depend on whether your photos are posted behind password protected pages and/or are for sale, but considering them as published is the safest way to register your photos. Read more here on an earlier blog.

Q. What are the best ways to submit my photos?
A. The "deposit" requirement (copies of your photos) may be fulfilled in many ways (listed in the order of the Library of Congress' preference):

  • Digital form on one or more CD-ROMs including CD-RWs and DVD-ROMs in one of these formats: jpeg, gif, tiff or pcd (no minimum or maximum size of file is required; a thumbnail that clearly depicts the photograph, such as 100 pixels in height or width, should be sufficient).
  • Unmounted prints at least 3 x 3 inches in size, but no larger than 20 x 24 inches.
  • Contact sheets.
  • Duplicate slides, each with a single image.
  • A photocopy of each unmounted print at least 3 x 3 inches in size, but no larger than 20 x 24 inches.
  • Slides, each containing a photograph of up to 36 images. A videotape clearly depicting each photograph.
Check this blog to learn how to batch process your photos for registration.

Q. Is the online eCO system a good way to register your photos?
A. Many photographers have found the electronic registration process to be an easy and good way to register. Here's one review from an earlier blog.

Q. If I registered my photos before they were published, do I register them again after I publish them?
A. You should register your photos only one time unless you make a derivative work from a photo. (Read more about derivative works on this blog.) It's easier to register your photos as unpublished, but it's most important to register them, and to register them accurately!

Q. Is there a way to indicate (along with the copyright notice) that the image has been registered?
A. There is no shortcut way to indicate that a photo has been registered, but register your photos anyway!

Take my advice; get professional help.
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Feb 14, 2008

Another Resource For California Sales Tax Issues

In addition to the Publication referenced in an earlier blog, Paul Antico and the APA have created a decision tree/flow chart to help California photographers understand when they need to charge sales tax.

Feb 10, 2008

Photo Attorney Blog Celebrates Three Big Years!

The Photo Attorney blog started
three years ago today!

The good news - more photographers understand and are defending their legal rights. The bad news - infringements are more rampant as digital technology makes it easier to steal your photos:

Thanks for your support. Stay tuned to the Photo Attorney blog to learn more about protecting your work!

Thanks to Steven Joerger and Bryan John Murphy for submitting these alerts.

Take my advice; get professional help.

Feb 9, 2008

Q&A - Shooting Events in Public Venues

Q. May I photograph a sports event when the sports association has a contract with another photographer to exclusively cover the event?

A. Generally, when you are on property that is managed and/or owned by someone else, including public parks and venues, the manager/owner can dictate your activities while on the property. For example, the manager can stop you from shooting just as the manager can stop you from standing in the aisles. If the manager lets you shoot, the manager can't later control what you do with those photos unless you have entered into a valid contract with the manager that has made control of the photographs a condition of the contract.

The best way to determine what your rights are is to hire an attorney to review your particular situation.

Take my advice; get professional help.

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Feb 5, 2008

Tax Time for Photographers

Taxes are taxing enough, but photographers often have more challenges, such as how to depreciate equipment and account for part-time income. Advice from a CPA is the best way to address your specific needs. But if you go it alone, here are some resources for help.

Good luck!

Feb 2, 2008

Q&A - Registering Photographs Taken By Others

Q. My dad was a photographer but has passed away. Can I copyright his photos even though I did not take the pictures?

A. You may register (remember, photographs already have copyright protection when they were taken) copyrights that you own, even if you didn't take the photos (and they haven't been previously registered). Copyrights are property of an estate and usually pass to heirs by operation of will or by probate. Check with your attorney to determine how the copyrights were distributed for the estate. Copyrights often are not specifically mentioned in a will and thus may pass as the residual assets of the estate.

As the owner of the copyrights, you register the photographs using Form VA from the US Copyright Office. In Space 2, put the photographer's name and include the photographer's dates of birth and death. In Space 4, you record your name as the claimant. Be sure to add: "a brief statement of how the claimant obtained ownership of the copyright." Examples include: "By written contract"; "Transfer of all rights by author"; "Assignment"; "By will." Do not attach transfer documents (such as the will).

Since copyrights now last for the life of the photographer plus 75 years, it's important to protect these assets by registering them.

Take my advice; get professional help.

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Feb 1, 2008

Upcoming Speaking Engagement - ISAP

Reminder! Join me for my return appearance at the International Society for Aviation Photography Symposium along with Scott Kelby, Vincent LaForet and others. Feb. 28 - March 1, 2008 at Dallas/Ft. Worth South Marriott. See you there!

Photo by Kristin Boyd