New Revised CA Sales Tax Publication

Figuring out what photographers owe for sales taxes can be difficult, especially since state agents give conflicting advice. Thanks to the APA, the California State Board of Equalization, the state entity in charge of sales tax regulation, has released a new Publication 68, “Tax Tips for Photographers, Photo Finishers, and Film Processing Laboratories.” You also may order copies by calling the SBOE Information Center at 800-400-7115.

It would be good to get such clarity from the other states!

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Adding Your Copyright Notice in the Camera!

Derrick Story over at the Digital Story blog explains how to set your camera so that your copyright notice is added in the camera. He shares how to do it for Canon, but one commentor notes that you can do it in some Nikon cameras, too!

While the copyright notice is no longer needed to protect your photos, it’s a good idea since it can lead to additional damages pursuant to the DMCA. Note that the official form of the copyright notice is “Copyright 2007 Carolyn E. Wright.” You can use “Copyr.” or “&copy” instead of the full word “copyright” (but not the “(c)”).

Be careful – using the “save for web” function in some photo editing programs such as Photoshop will strip the camera’s metadata from the digital file, removing the copyright notice you added.

Take my advice; get professional help.
PhotoAttorney®

Technorati Tags: copyright law, photography business

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Announcing – Vivid Wildlife Workshops


An experienced wildlife photography workshop leader, Carolyn proudly announces her own wildlife photography workshop company: Vivid Wildlife Workshops [“VWW”]. Specializing in wildlife photography, VWW will take you to beautiful places to help you capture superb images of magnificent animals.

VWW’s inaugural workshop is a trip to photograph Coastal Brown Bears at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge in Lake Clark, Alaska, from August 4-10, 2008. The photos shown here are by Carolyn from her workshop there last year.

Get the details of next year’s trip and see photos by Carolyn at www.vividwildlife.com. Spaces are limited and are selling fast! Sign up today!!!

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Triple Threat – Copyright Infringement, Misappropriation, and Removal of Copyright Management Information

As reported by the BBC and the photographer’s Flickr site, a self-portrait of an underaged girl was used for a porn video cover after the photographer’s name/watermark was removed. On top of that, the alleged infringer was rude to the photographer. The suit has been filed in Florida. It’s going to be a fun case!

Thanks to Brian Garson for submitting this topic.

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Does Display of Photos for License or Sale Require A Model Release?

Many photographers and stock agencies display photos of people that are available for licensing or print sales. While the end user clearly has the responsibility to have permission, as evidenced through a model release, of a person in the photo to use it in a commercial manner, the photographer or stock agency has never been liable for failure to have that permission. Unfortunately, that may change.

The singer, James Brown (now deceased but his estate is continuing the action) filed suit against Corbis in Illinois claiming that Corbis has violated his right of publicity for “commercial use of his image on the Internet” by selling/licensing photos of him. Corbis advises licensees that it does not have a model release from Mr. Brown, so the users would need either to obtain one or use the photo editorially.

Rights of publicity are state-based rights. While similar, they differ slightly in each state. Illinois’ statute defines commercial use of a person’s name or likeness to be:

Commercial purpose means the public use or holding out of an individual’s identity (i) on or in connection with the offering for sale or sale of a product, merchandise, goods or services; (ii) for purposes of advertising or promoting products, merchandise, goods, or services . . . .

765 ILCS 1075/5 (West 2002).

To summarize the case thus far: Corbis filed a motion to dismiss claiming that Mr. Brown had no valid claims as a matter of law. The trial court ultimately denied Corbis’ motion so Corbis filed an interlocutory appeal (asking the state appellate court to review the decision before the case went further). The appellate court held:

In light of the vast difference of opinion regarding the interpretation of the definition of what Corbis sells and the legal effect of such sales, we cannot say that the facts are undisputed that Corbis’s display of the photos of James Brown on its Web site did not in some way constitute an improper commercial use under either the Illinois common law or the Publicity Act. We therefore cannot conclude that the trial court erred in denying Corbis’s motion to dismiss.

Emphasis added. (Read the full opinion here).

The affirmation of the trial court’s denial of the motion to dismiss does not mean Corbis has lost. It will have to fight this battle at the trial court. If it loses there, Corbis likely will appeal the judgment all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court since First Amendment rights are at risk. While the final result won’t be known for a while, the possibility that photographers and stock agencies will need a model release to display their photos to be licensed or to sell prints is a major concern.

Take my advice; get professional help.
PhotoAttorney®

Technorati Tags: copyright law, right of privacy, photography business

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