Want to Copyright a Picture?

Here are a few things you should know about copyrighting a picture.

Image security and copyright protection are becoming increasingly popular legal topics as online sharing continues to evolve. The government has faced challenges as to the correct balance between promoting art versus protecting a picture.

There are always several options when talking about copyrighted material, and all depend on what level of protection and security you would like to afford. It is true that your picture is copyrighted when it is created, but there are additional advantages to registering your pictures.

The most prominent advantage to registering your picture is the award of damages for an infringement case. When a picture is not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office prior to an infringement, the copyright owner will only recover actual damages.

Generally, courts will calculate the actual damages based on your normal licensing fees or an industry standard and additionally give you the profits that were made by the infringer - if you can quantify them.

However, the one thing that is left out when you do not register your picture are attorney fees. Lastly, it is much easier to win an infringement suit when you have a certificate from the copyright office.

Steps to protect your picture with a copyright

There are also some additional steps to take that will help protect your picture if you plan on posting it on the Internet.

The first is to place the official copyright notice on your picture. The copyright notice contains the letter “C” in a circle with the date the picture was first published and the name of the copyright owner. 

Moreover, an owner who posts their pictures online can disable the right click function and heavily prosecute infringers. Before getting excited to sue absolutely everyone that uses your picture without your consent, it is still a good idea to consult a copyright attorney. 

There are several defenses that the infringer may have to using someone else’s picture. The main defense is the fair use doctrine, which gives certain reproductions of pictures legal immunity. A few include reproducing for the purpose of criticism, comment, news, reporting or teaching among others.

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