Benefits of US Copyright Registration Reply

Copyright vests automatically in an original work once it is ‘fixed’ in a tangible dollar (2)form.  While copyright vests automatically, it can also be advantageous to register an original work for copyright registration with the US Copyright Office.  Registering a work with the US Copyright Office is not a requirement but it can be beneficial for the following reasons:

  • Registration with the US Copyright Office establishes a public record of the basic facts including ownership of an original work.
  • Before an lawsuit may be filed against someone infringing your work, registration is necessary with the US Copyright Office for works of US origin.
  • If registration is made within 3 months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions.  Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.
  • If registration is made within 5 years of publication of the work, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
  • Registration with the US Copyright Office allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the US Customs Service for protection against importation of infringing copies.

It is possible to file for US Copyright Registration at anytime within the life of the copyrighted work.  Currently, it only costs $35 to file an application with the US Copyright Office for registration.

The term of copyright protection for a work created on or after January 1, 1978 is for the life of the author plus 70 years (or if a work is made for hire the term of copyright protection is 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first.)

Wishing all of you reading this post a Happy New Year!   Starting off the new year with a reminder that all your original creative content that is written down, drawn, painted, recorded, sculpted or otherwise fixed… is automatically vested with copyright feels auspicious.  As detailed above, taking the extra step to register your work with the US Copyright Office can be beneficial.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

For more information see, Circular 1, Copyright Basics; Circular 15A, Duration of Copyright. and all the information circulars and fact sheets available at the US Copyright Office website: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/; and also an earlier post “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35“; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Copyright in photographs… a bundle of exclusive rights Reply

photoPhotographs are one type of “original works of authorship” that copyright law protects. Copyright protection gives the authors or owners of a copyrighted photograph the exclusive rights to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • TO REPRODUCE the copyrighted photograph;
  • TO PREPARE DERIVATIVE WORKS based upon the copyrighted photograph;
  • TO DISTRIBUTE COPIES of the copyrighted photograph to the public by SALE or OTHER TRANSFER of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • TO DISPLAY the copyrighted photograph publicly;
  • TO PERFORM the copyrighted work publicly. (Performance may be less applicable to photographs; although, in today’s digital age it could be possible and worth mentioning).

These exclusive rights in copyrighted works, including photographs, are outlined in Section 106 of the US Copyright Act. Violating any of the rights vested in the owner of a copyrighted photograph is illegal. However, it is important to note that there are some exceptions and limitations to these rights. One major limitation is the doctrine of “fair use.”

While copyright exists in any original photograph (and any original work) from the time the work is created in a fixed form, registering the photograph with the US Copyright Office has additional advantages including: 1) establishing a public record of the copyright; and 2) assisting with any infringement actions that may arise. (Keep in mind that applying for Copyright Registration is not expensive – Copyright registration only costs $35).

For more information on using someones photograph on your blog or website click here to see another post on the topic.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also, the US Copyright Act at http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html; the US Copyright Circular 1 on Copyright basics at http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf; the US Copyright Office Website at www.copyright.gov; other blog posts on photography copyright; other blog posts on copyright registration of original works; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Sojourner Truth…. copyright owner (among other heroic acts) Reply

Sojourner Truth registered her historic image “I sell the shadow to support the substance” with the US Copyright Office08978_150px in 1864.   To me, it’s remarkable that in addition to Sojourner Truth’s famed work as an African-American abolitionist and advocate for women’s rights… she was also a copyright owner.

Back in 1864 when Sojourner Truth registered her image with the US Copyright Office, the copyright laws were different than they are today… and claiming copyright protection involved more formalities.  However, the basic principles of copyright protection were the same: controlling the copying, printing, reprinting and publishing of a registered work.  Evidently, Sojourner Truth sold copies of her image to raise money for the abolitionist movement. (ie a good motivation to control the use, copying, printing and reprinting of the image with copyright registration).

While I have always held Sojourner Truth in high regard for her historic advocacy work, I’m adding copyright owner to the list of her heroic acts.

(The copyright notice on Sojourner Truth’s historic image caught my eye while visiting a recent exhibition of Civil War Photography at the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

See also, www.nps.gov/wori/historyculture/sojourner-truth.htm; US Copyright Act of 1790 at www.copyright.gov/history/1790act; www.loc.gov/pictures/item/98501244/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

Summary for Photographers of IP Legal Freebies: Reply

And a few lagniappe topics:

This post is a valentine for my mom… who will be lecturing on this topic for other authors and photographers over the weekend.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

 

What happens to your photos once posted to Facebook? Reply

Facebook thrives because people want to connect and share photographs and other content. However, connecting and sharing content on Facebook means that Facebook makes the rules for how the content is shared, used, copied and made available to others. (Facebook also has the privilege of changing these terms of use at anytime and is known for making significant policy changes frequently. For the current Terms of Service see –>; http://www.facebook.com/legal/terms).

Here are three significant components of Facebook’s current policy concerning photographs that you post to Facebook (these are the terms as of today… and may change tomorrow):

  1. …you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it. (Subject to how you set the privacy and application settings on your account).
  2. When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).
  3. Facebook respects the intellectual property rights of others and is committed to helping third parties protect their rights. Our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities prohibits users from posting content that violates another party’s intellectual property rights. When we receive a valid notice of IP infringement, we promptly remove or disable access to the allegedly infringing content. We also terminate the accounts of repeat infringers in appropriate circumstances.

What can happen to your photographs when you post it to Facebook under these Terms? The short answer – ALMOST ANYTHING… especially if you have left the default settings on your Facebook page to allow public access to the content you post on Facebook.  If however, someone else posts a photograph that you took and own the rights to… then you have a bit more muscle and can request that Facebook remove or disable access to the photograph by reporting a copyright infringement to Facebook.

To report a copyright infringement on Facebook go to –>; https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=190268144407210 …you will see that there is an online form as well as a contact email [ip@fb.com] and mailing address.

See also: http://www.facebook.com/legal/terms, https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=190268144407210; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

Copyright Law – Using photos of other people on your website, blog or publications Reply

Using recognizable pictures of other people on your website, blog or publication of any kind requires their express permission (unless they are a celebrity or it is ‘newsworthy’ photo).  How do you do this?  Ask them for permission AND have them sign a simple agreement giving you permission to use their image.  Specify in the agreement the ways, websites, publications etc where the photo will be used.

Here are a few myths and truths on this topic: 

MYTH:  Just because you took a photo of the bride at her wedding gives you permission to use it on your website

MYTH:  Having permission to use a portrait in a book automatically gives you permission to use it in a film

MYTH:  It’s okay to use a portrait you took of someone in a public place without permission

TRUTH:  Virtually any photo of a celebrity is considered newsworthy and okay to use

Cover your bases and get permission to use the photos you take of other people at the time you take the picture.  (These types of agreements are called a Photo Release or Model Release).

See –> http://wp.me/p10nNq-J for more information on Photo releases and www.kasterlegal.com.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

Interested in PINTEREST.COM’s growth and use of photographs posted to the site 3

Have you heard the buzz about PINTEREST.COM? Amazingly, PINTEREST is demonstrating record-breaking growth and is now the fastest growing site to reach 10 million users… and it focuses on sharing photographs and visuals.

This obviously raises questions on what you are ‘agreeing to’ when you post a photograph or visual image on the site. Like all large social media websites, PINTEREST, outlines these details in their terms of use.

The bottom line: If you post a photograph to PINTEREST you are virtually giving your image away. By posting content on PINTEREST you grant the site a:

“worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.” http://pinterest.com/about/terms/

(This means that the website can use your image for virtually any, conceivable purpose…. including granting their other users permission to use and exploit your work on the ‘Site, Application, or Services.’)

Three things to watch out for:

  • Post only your own original work or work you are authorized to distribute and license (or the content can be removed due to copyright infringement if the actual owner requests PINTEREST to do so)
  • Post only work that you want to have FREELY USED by and potentially SOLD to others
  • Post only work that you have permission to use in this way

For example, a bride may not have permission from the professional photographer who took the photo to share it in this way and conversely the photographer may or may not have permission from a bride to share her portraits in this way. (Under these terms agreed to when posting a photograph to this site… any picture posted could potentially be sold to another party and end up in an advertisement on the other side of the world without needing permission from or paying $ to the person who posted it on the site. This could get complicated…)

P.S. Keep in mind that the Terms of Use often change frequently for most social media websites… so it’s a good idea to recheck them often.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

 

See also:http://pinterest.com/about/copyright/ ; http://rawsocialmedia.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/the-power-of-pinterest-a-great-infographic-guide-to-pintrest-with-some-very-persuasive-data/; http://www.bloomberg.com/video/88836636/@iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Copyright Law: Using someone else’s photograph in your blog, website or promo materials 2

If you have reached this posting because you Googled, “is it free to use photographs taken from another person’s website” ….the answer is probably NO… and this post is dedicated to you.

Just because it is EASY to access and copy photographs via the internet doesn’t mean that the photographs are free for the taking.  Copying a photograph from another website or online article or blog can easily violate another person’s copyright in the image.

Did you know that every original work (including photographs, designs, poetry, text, music… etc) that is created in the US today, is instantly vested with copyright as soon as it is written down, printed… or ‘fixed in any tangible form’?  It’s true.  Copyright is instantly vested in fixed, original works and this means that the owner has the right to monetize the work. (ie charge a fee to license or sell a photograph).

As you might guess, the price to license a photograph depends on how you plan to use the image and for how long.  For example to license a photograph from Getty Images for 1 month, to use on a social media site costs approximately $160… and $360 for 3 months.  (the price varies by image etc).  Or hire a photographer to take photographs for you!  Or take them yourself.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: http://www.gettyimages.com

Copying another artist’s work into a New Medium can violate copyright 2

The idea behind a piece of artwork is not protected by copyright.  However, a near replica of an artist’s work in different medium can be a copyright violation if the new work closely copies a copyright protected work.  What this means is that being inspired by an idea of another contemporary artist to recreate your own artwork from scratch is…100% legit.  For example, if a famous photograph of the pyramids inspires you to fly to Egypt and try to recreate the exact same photo to display and sell in a gallery… there is no copyright violation.  However, it is different if you use a copy of a famous photograph of a pyramid to paint a replica of the photograph.  Painting a copy of a photograph changes the medium of the artwork, but it can often still be a copyright violation of the copied work.

Here are a few examples of instances when copying someone else’s artwork into a new medium could be a copyright violation of the original work:

  • Photographing a sculpture… for use on a postage stamp
  • Making a painting of another artist’s photograph… to display in a gallery show
  • Making a campaign poster out of another artist’s photograph… to sell and raise money
  • Making a sculpture of another artist’s photograph of a sad kid in a costume… to display and sell
  • Recreating another artist’s painting in peanut butter and jelly and photographing the PB&J  rendition… to display and sell

Obviously, there are many unique facts and factors to consider in each case… and many of these types of challenges settle before a court issues a final ruling.  However by the time the parties begin negotiating a settlement, the stakes are higher and the alleged infringer generally ends up paying much more than it would have cost to secure a license at the outset.

The solution is to get a license from the original artist to make a derivative work.  (Trying to deny or cover-up your source material is often unsuccessful and can cost a lot more $$ in the end.)

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com.

Rogers v. Koons, 960 F.2d 301 (2d Cir. 1992)( The infringers fair use defense was denied); Gaylord v. United States, 595 F.3d 1364 (Fed. Cir. 2010); Fairey v Associated Press; alleged infringement between A.Brown and littlewhitehead; alleged infringement between Burdeny and Leong; NY Times article 9/28/11, questioning originality of Dylan paintings at the Gagosian; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.