Photography Who Owns Copyrights – 13 Tips
Photography Who Owns Copyrights – 13 Tips
Copyright law gives content creators an important security dynamic thereby enabling them to protect their work from unauthorized use. The related policies are straightforward and easy to understand but as with most legislations, exceptions – which can be confusing at times – exist. The best thing about copyrights is that they are enforceable globally. Here are 13 illuminating tips on who owns copyrights and how you can best leverage them to protect your work.
The default copyright owner
Once you have captured an image, you own the copyright by default and no one should use your work without express permission. The copyright comes into effect immediately you publish your work and from then on, it becomes enforceable in a court of law in case of infringement.
When you are a hired hand
If you are an employee and photography is part of your job description, all the work-related images you capture are considered as work for hire and the copyrights belongs to your employer. Thus, you personally cannot do anything to enforce them in case of violation.
However, this law has a contentious bit in that it can be hard to draw the line between personal images and work-related images as it boils down to the photographer’s intention.
When you sell the image
Selling your work is essentially transferring ownership of all rights including the copyright. Once you sell, you have no power over your work unless you sold based on a contract with specific guidelines of use. This applies to video, articles, as well as any other type of content you may produce.
Leverage the copyright notice
If your work is really popular, ensuring that your copyrights are not violated can be an impossible feat. However, you can use a copyright notice to reduce infringements somewhat. Make sure that you include the copyright symbol, or even the word itself ‘copyright’ whenever you use your photos. It will also give you an advantage in a court of law if you decide to prosecute offenders.
Watermarks are another great way to safeguard your images from abuse by unscrupulous persons. You can digitally label the picture with the brand of your company or any other telling mark that will not take anything away from the original intended use of the picture. This tactic is particularly useful in modelling where a model is showcasing a particular house’s line of apparel.
File the copyrights
It is not necessary that you file a copyright, but it is highly encouraged. You only have to submit a request to the copyright office and pay a little fee. Moreover, in case you decide to sue, you will first of all have to file the copyright. Ideally, categorize your work and file copyrights for the productions you deem to have most potential.
Use Google Alerts
In today’s crowded and always plugged-in digital space, knowing when your copyrights are being infringed upon can be a challenge. This is where the Google Alerts tool comes in handy; it is easy to use and it can notify you when your digital work is being used contrary to your wishes.
Supplement copyrights with other security alternatives
In some cases, and very particular contexts, you can better secure your images through other protection channels. You can decide to convert unique imagery into a trademark, for instance, and file it with the USPTO. If your work depicts trade secrets, you can protect the images as such. These additional methods are only feasible when the work in question is very delicate as they can be quite expensive.
Taking a picture of a picture
This is one of the loopholes of copyrights in photography since courts disagree whether photographing someone else’s work counts as infringement. There is not much you can do as a photographer in such a scenario other than adding watermarks to your images, for instance, to discourage it.
Copyright enforcement is challenging and thus, if you decide to take legal action, you have to do a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis or you might end up wasting your time and resources. This is why many apparel multinationals have their copyrights grossly infringed upon, yet they rarely sue.
Fair use law
Fair use law covers exceptions to when copyright law does not apply such as when critiquing, or commenting. Parody is another instance when copyright law fails to apply. These are common examples since the power to determine the true extent of exceptions lies with courts of law.
Copyrights do not last forever, but they last for quite a long time – often, for over a lifetime. In the European union, copyrights do not apply 70 years after the content creator dies. Another factor that can affect copyright longevity is the nature of authorship.
If you have decided to take up photography as a career, it would be a good idea to have a go-to personal lawyer for advice. This way, you will better understand all the security specifics relating to your work and have an easier time if you decide to pursue legal action against offenders.
With the above information, you now have more insight regarding how you can leverage copyrights to your advantage. On the other hand, be careful not to infringe upon other’s copyrights to avoid getting into trouble.