How to copyright photos

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Dan Shorb

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How to copyright photos

by Dan Shorb » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:07 pm

What's the easiest quickest way to do it for large amounts of photos?

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Buz Groshong

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by Buz Groshong » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:31 pm

I assume we are talking about registering the copyrights. You automatically have a copyright for any photo you take. Registering it helps establish that the photo is in fact yours and affects the potential award in a copyright lawsuit.

I was once told that for 35 mm, the way to do it was to submit contact sheets. That way you paid one fee per sheet instead of one fee per photo. For digital photos, I guess you could print with a bunch of them on a page and submit them that way. On the other hand, you might want to contact the Library of Congress (they are the depository for all of the items submitted for copyright registration) and see if you can submit a CD for registration purposes.

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by norco17 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:50 pm

Mail the photos to yourself and as long as the envelopes are not opened the postmark will hold up in court as a copyright date.

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by QITNL » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:19 pm

If you are interested in registering your copyrights, here are some links to get you started:

"Mail the photos to yourself" - see: ... ml#poorman

I’ve heard about a “poor man’s copyright.” What is it?

The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.

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by nattfodd » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:31 pm

Seriously though, unless your photos are highly specialized or highly beautiful, it is very unlikely that you will get enough money from suing copyright violators to offset the registration costs.

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Dan Shorb

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by Dan Shorb » Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:22 pm

thank you gentlemen. Forums seem to be the fastest way to get some things done on the net. The number of experts within Summitpost community rarely fails me. Thx.

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by nhluhr » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:31 pm

It could be that the OP is asking about watermarking digital photos in a batch?

Personally, I think watermarking is a horrible practice. Here are some things to consider:
10 Photography Pet Peeves We’d Throw Down a Black Hole. . . Watermarks

Unless you’re sneaking behind Apple’s closed doors to photograph their next supersecret prototype and you’re desperate for the credit, watermarks are just tacky. If you’re concerned about people stealing your photos, don’t post them on the internet.

The photography game today rewards openness and exposure. The watermark is either the sign of a newbie who doesn’t know any better or insecure photographers who simultaneously thinks their photos are better than they are and that everyone is out to steal them.

Yes, it sucks when someone steals your photo when they should have paid you for it. Send them an invoice. Don’t ruin your photos for everyone else who wants to enjoy them.

For photo editors looking for potential photographers, the watermark is usually just a sign of someone who will be difficult to work with. Either because they’ve been burned in the past and they’re paranoid, or they just have an inflated idea of the market value of their work. ... -images-on
Dear photographers who restrict your hi-res images on Flickr/your portfolio/whatev
You do this because you think it will benefit you. You think that visitors to your portfolio or Flickr stream will try to find a way to hand you money to avoid visual blueballs, or you think it will prevent IP theft and thereby increase your chances of being approached by photo editors/art directors/gallery owners even though people in those influential, legitimizing positions constitute maybe 0.000001% of your current audience.

This thinking is wrong-headed. You are dumb.

You need to provide hi-res images so that people pirate them. By ‘pirate,’ I mean ‘pass them around,’ of course. You need as many people as possible coveting your work and showing it to others. It’s a strategy of odds. Some people will be like me and happily provide links and credit. Aggregators who make this effort attract a greater concentration of professionals (photographers and patrons alike) because we allow people with more than a passing interest the ability to spider outwards—what the internet was meant for. This is what separates Resources from Distractions.

Huge-ass JPGs are instrumental to all this.

If you have talent and vision, your brand will take care of itself. Think about Noah Kalina, Merkeley, Cari Ann Wayman, or other net-made photographers. Their visual styles are distinct. You know who shot those photos without having to see their name.

Individual images are less important than building a reputation for shooting captivating photos. Do great work and throw it to the wind.

You want your work passed around so much—attributed or not—that your style becomes recognizable. You want your eye to seep into the collective consciousness. Money will find its way into your pocket when this happens.

Unless you are already gallery-famous, keeping your photos accessible at only small sizes ensures that the people who see them are Average Joes whose attention is fleeting, fickle, and, more importantly, worthless. Giant pictures are visceral. Tiny-ass images only get reblogged by retards.

It might be counter-intuitive to make your work so vulnerable. Deal with it.

P.S. Ugly, distracting watermarks rob your photographs of impact and reduce their chances of becoming popular. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

P.P.S. Sorry for the preachiness.

In short, I could tell you how to watermark all your images quickly, but I won't, because it's a bad practice.

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Arthur Digbee

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by Arthur Digbee » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:38 pm

I know we've had websites steal SP photos without payment or credit. On the other hand, many of us have made sales to magazines that troll SP looking for specific kinds of photos.

So the "circulate widely on the web" strategy can certainly work for us hobbyists; if I were a professional photographer other strategies would be better, I'm sure. (We have a few pros on SP, I hope they'll chime in.)

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