Copyright – Insurance to Protect Your Work

Guest post by photographer Sinden Collier

Copy: An imitation or reproduction of an original; a duplicate.

Right: At its most fundamental, a right is a claim.

So when we merge the two words, “copyright” is the exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, etc.

Copyright is a given. The minute you create something original like a photo, it’s ownership. It belongs to you.

However, we live in a land governed by law. By following certain principles of the law you are given extra protection. Such is the case of copyright law. But you must follow some of the rules to have that extra protection.

It’s like having auto insurance. This extra protection is given to copyright by registering your images with the U.S. Copyright Office. The U.S. Copyright Law gives you the insurance when you register your images.

Copyright is the law of the United States that protects the works of authors, artists, composers, and others from being used without permission. As attorney Ivan Hoffman so well discussed in his article “Do I Need to Register My Copyrights“:

“Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim… But perhaps of greatest significance is that if the registration is made within three months after first publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees can be available to the copyright owner in court actions… This is significant for without the statutory damage award, a claimant must prove actual damages. That can be quite difficult, especially if the claimant cannot show a “track” record of previous earnings and the loss of such earnings or some other admissible evidence of provable damages. Without this track record or other such admissible evidence, proving that the claimant has been harmed by any claimed infringement appears to the courts as speculative. But the ability to obtain statutory damages eliminates the need to prove what actual damages.”

The U.S. Copyright Office has made it very economical and easy to register your images. Hundreds upon hundreds of unpublished images can be registered at one time for a flat fee of $35.00.

I am not an attorney. I am a photographer. I try to read as much as I can find about copyright and attend seminars that are given by the various photography associations that help us in our business.

Photography is my profession and through licensing my images I earn my living. Copyright is my insurance and protection that enables me to continue making a living from my images.

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