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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

How do you do your copyright workflow?
Allan Campbell, Photographer, Assistant
Salem (Portland) | OR | USA | Posted: 2:19 PM on 01.05.04
->> So many people have questions about copyright and how to go about doing it. It got me thinking if I could streamline my copyright workflow. So how do you as an indivdual handle your copyright? Do you burn CD's, throw slides on a lightbox, Do you protect everything you shoot or just what is published? Lay it all out.... how do you do it? I do not mean what form do you use etc... I would like to hear about the mechanics of it in your office or studio...
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Ed Wolfstein, Photographer, Assistant
Burlington | VT | USA | Posted: 7:40 PM on 01.05.04
->> OK, here's my workflow on copyright submissions. I submit monthly, so it's based on that. I'm sure there are many other ways to get this done painlessly, but this works for me, and with a little tweaking (thanks to some SportsShooter suggestions) I'll get turnaround done a bit faster still:

1) I have Quicken set to automatically remind me, and print out a check for $30. made out the Register of Copyrights the first of each month.

2) I burn a CD-ROM with low-rez (600 pixel) versions of ALL the images I've taken during the calendar month. I use Archive Creator for Windows, and it creates thumbnails, and all the html code to make easy to find and burn web-based submissions on the CD. I burn 3 copies, and then test them for readability on a Mac. The reason I burn EVERY image I take, is so that there remains no doubt in my mind that if I captured an image - out-take, blur, whatnot, it's been submitted and is copyright. No exceptions. Period.

3) I edit the electronic (Acrobat version) Form VA, only changing necessary dates, (everything else pretty much stays the same, unless I'm submitting a special event separately from my monthly routine) print out 2 copies, and sign both.

4) Stick on CD-Labels (12 months worth pre-printed)

5) Send the CD, the completed Form VA, and the Check to the Library of Congress address on the Form VA. Mailing Labels are also pre-printed to make it go faster.

That's it. The only thing I'll be changing in the future will perhaps be the use of Express Mailing, or UPS/FedEx to get the registration date stamped on the Certificate a bit sooner.

The whole process usually takes me less than 30 minutes, with the exception of the CD-Burning, which will vary somewhat month to month - but that is done on my Windows machine in the background, while my Mac is still free for Day-to-Day tasks. Oh, yes - I send 1 CD with 1 Form VA, and keep 2 CDs and 1 Form VA on file. I recently had to re-submit, because somehow the CD was rendered unreadable due to "security screening" on their part - somewhere in Baltimore. They called me up, apologized, and asked for another CD - which I had ready to go.

Hope that helps others file. It's really not hard - and I hate filling out Government Forms! (That's what Accountants were made for!)

Cheers!

- Ed.
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Kurt Jones, Photographer
Sherman Oaks | CA | USA | Posted: 8:10 PM on 01.05.04
->> Ed,

You can register how many images for that $30 ??????????
as many as you want?

Kurt
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Joel Kilby, Photographer
Clayton | NC | USA | Posted: 8:20 PM on 01.05.04
->> Is it legally necessary to register EVERY image, or would general samples from each shoot be enough?

For example, when I'm shooting a bike story, I might shoot 100-200 images of riders on the same trail or trip or whatever... should i register EVERY image or just a sampling of them for all of them to be considered legally copyrighted?
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Ed Wolfstein, Photographer, Assistant
Burlington | VT | USA | Posted: 9:00 PM on 01.05.04
->> Kurt: with jpeg compression, each 600 pixel image ends up being about 25~30k, and add 3k for a 150 pixel thumbnail to help navigate the CD. So a 650 Meg CD can hold over 20,000 images (did I do my math right?) which I've never exceeded in one month. If I did, I could switch to DVD-ROM or if I wanted to submit higher rez than 600. It's basically submitted as a body of work. I title it something like: "Digital Images taken by Edward Wolfstein during the Month of September 2003". So heavens, it's not $30 per image!

Joel: Having just explained that you can cram 20,000 images and thumbnails on a CD-ROM, why not just register the whole shoot? That way, no matter how, even an out-take, or a blurry shot, somehow gets used, you can be assured that even your junk is copyright.

Here's an example of why EVERYTHING should be submitted: I'm not a lawyer, but if you were to say that not all the images in a shoot were registered, it gives THEIR attorney a loophole to get out of your demands. Say an image of yours was used to create an arty poster, they might argue that it wasn't one of your registered shots that they used to develop the artwork. It would be harder to prove the exact frame - especially when separated by only fractions of a second. Why risk it? Why offer a loophole?

Plus, 20 years from now, when you might not remember what was or wasn't submitted, wouldn't it be much easier to say EVERYTHING was submitted and registered, therefore ANY time I might discover an image of mine being used illegally - I'll know that I have good grounds for seeking compensation - with penalties!

Man, I'm starting to sound like Rickman... Rick, you da man!

Makes sense?

- Ed.
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Joel Kilby, Photographer
Clayton | NC | USA | Posted: 9:37 PM on 01.05.04
->> Yes, it makes sense. I'm not saying it doesn't... I've just been under the assumption that any work an artist creates is sort of "automatically" copyrighted & the actual registration process is sort of driving the point home for legality's sake. PLEASE CORRECT if I'm mislead.
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Andy Mead, Photographer, Photo Editor
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 9:39 PM on 01.05.04
->> When you say 600 pixel, I assume you mean 600 pixel high. At what "quality" setting are you archiving them for Copyright purposes?

I've used Thotor for years for various thumbnailing needs, so I like your methods. I think I can adapt them myself.

At roughly 40k/image total storage (600 and 150 pixel versions), you can get approxiamately 17,920 (700*1024*1024/40/1024) images per CD. :p
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Ed Woo, Photographer
Long Beach | CA | USA | Posted: 9:53 PM on 01.05.04
->> I just started registering my photos recently. After throwing out the bad shots, I make roughly an 8x10 low rez jpeg of the shots taken during the month that I'm keeping & burn it to a CD. It seems like I'm doing this monthly. The $30 is cheap insurance.
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Ed Wolfstein, Photographer, Assistant
Burlington | VT | USA | Posted: 9:58 PM on 01.05.04
->> In Archive Creator Pro 2.0 ( http://www.PictureFlow.com ) you set the size of the archive image, the thumbnail size, and the jpeg quality (I set mine at 50). I set my archive images at 600 x 600, and the thumbs at 150 x 150. Then the software limits the height or width to that number. So a horizontal shot is downsized to 600 pixels horizontal by 400 pixels vertical, etc.

Joel: I don't know how the rumor about automatic copyright got started, but at the risk of sounding sorely and painfully repetitive, please check out Rick Rickmans 2002 Luau QuickTime clips:

http://www.sportsshooter.com/special_feature/2002_luau_video/rickman_biz/in...

I think you'll find them both entertaining and very informative.

- Ed.
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Byron Hetzler, Photographer
Granby | CO | USA | Posted: 10:23 PM on 01.05.04
->> Archive Creator looks pretty slick, but does anyone know of something similar for the Mac? I'm trying to find my notes from Rick's talk at this year's Luau to see what he was using.
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Jacob Hannah, Student/Intern, Photographer
Rochester | NY | USA | Posted: 10:44 PM on 01.05.04
->> I have been told several times by teachers that an image is copyrighted the moment you create it.

www.photolaw.net/faq.html says that the copyright originates at the time your images are saved on a computer disk or hard drive.

There are obviously benefits and it is wise to register with the Library of Congress but technically your images are automatically copyrighted when you create them.
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Ed Wolfstein, Photographer, Assistant
Burlington | VT | USA | Posted: 10:55 PM on 01.05.04
->> At least check out clip 3:

http://www.sportsshooter.com/special_feature/2002_luau_video/rickman_biz/ri...
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Jim Sykes, Photographer
Montgomery Village | Md | USA | Posted: 10:57 PM on 01.05.04
->> Jacob,

From what I understand, you DO own the copyright the minute you take the photo. However, to recover damages you must have the photo registered.

If you dont have them registered all you can recover is what you normally would have charged for such usage. But if it is registered, you can recover punitive damages and lawyer fees to recover those damages.

Since most uses would not pay enough to warrant going to court to recover them, it really is prudent to make sure they are registered so that you can recover those court costs and the extra punitive damages.
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Gene Blevins, Photographer
Woodland Hills | CA | USA | Posted: 11:16 PM on 01.05.04
->> Hi Allan....Mean Gene/LA Daily news..it's been a while! To answer your question on the copyright stuff, I just copyright the photos that get publish in magazines and the major big stories that i cover in CA.

I have my law firm do it and so the photos register with my name and the firm's name on it to..makes it look way more offical. I just put the photos on a CD with the info on the photos and let my laywer do the rest...Gene/LA Daily news
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Allan Campbell, Photographer, Assistant
Salem (Portland) | OR | USA | Posted: 11:28 PM on 01.05.04
->> Gene it has been a while. I will be in LA im April. I was going to call Kenji and Roger and go to lunch. Maybe we could all meet and catch up. Saw your shuttle photo a while back. Was Bill with you when you went up there?
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Moose Peterson, Photographer, Student/Intern
Mammoth Lakes | CA | USA | Posted: 11:30 PM on 01.05.04
->> Just a FYI, & shameless plug, but using DigitalPro (www.moose395.net) you can add your copyright when you originally upload your images placing your copyright string automatically into the IPTC.

Moose
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Greg Ferguson, Photographer
Scottsdale | Az | USA | Posted: 12:47 AM on 01.06.04
->> I spent several hours reading the government's copyright web pages, and doin' my best to decipher them.

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html

I'm not a lawyer, but I think I can give some useful comments to some of the things asked.

Our work is instantly copyrighted when we take a picture. If it can be viewed directly or by use of a machine then it's copyrighted. So, from how I read it then chimping proves it's copyrighted. Especially chimping on national TV. :-)

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#wccc
http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#hsc

Publishing a "work" (in our case a photo) means turning it into a hard-copy, i.e. a fixed work in its final form offered for sale to the public.

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#pub

For most of us, we want to file an unpublished collection of works. For me it seems most useful because I have shots I like and will want to use in the future, but they're not immediately useful so I won't try to sell them and won't bother printing them.

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#uc
http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#uw

The copyright office distinguishes between works we can see and those we can't see. For works that can be seen, like photos, we have to use a visual copyright notice.

The reason we want to put a copyright notice on our images is to establish that anyone taking (ripping off) our work can't say they didn't know it was copyrighted.

It needs to be visible though. Embedding it into the jpeg header or EXIF info doesn't seem like it'd work as well, because it's obscured or invisible to the average person - THEY could argue they couldn't see it so it was easy for them to assume the work was free. The text reads this way:

'The copyright notice should be affixed to copies or phonorecords in such a way as to "give reasonable notice of the claim of copyright."'

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#noc (read the fourth paragraph)

In talking to my copyright lawyer when I incorporated he told me the copyright notice HAS to follow the guidelines or it was worthless.

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#fnv

Once we've done those things we're protected with decent coverage. However if someone steals our work we might have to pay lawyers fees and will only be awarded if we can prove lost income or damages. THAT is why we want to actually register our work, because by doing so we get coverage of lawyer fees and statuatory damages automatically. We have three months from creation of the work, or before infringment (which seems confusing but I guess they're saying better late than never.)

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#cr

So, doing what Ed does, by dumping the images monthly (or quarterly) to a CD, with printouts of thumbnails and the paperwork and check will make it a lot easier to prove you registered the work, and means more money and less work if someone infringes on your work.

Again, I'm not a lawyer, just someone who puzzled through it last night. Hope this helps and encourages all of us to take advantage of what the government is offering us -- protection for cheap.
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Jana C, Photographer
Ottawa | ON | Canada | Posted: 6:29 AM on 01.06.04
->> A question for the Canadian Sportsshooters - does anyone know what the requirements are in Canada to register copyrighted photos?
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Allan Campbell, Photographer, Assistant
Salem (Portland) | OR | USA | Posted: 12:04 PM on 01.06.04
->> We are getting side tracked.... The original question was not how you do the act of copyright with the copyright office, but how do you do it in your office or studio. Ed gave a great response. I am interested in the software you use, when during the month do you do it? Do you keep a regular schedule etc.... Do you copyright monthly, quarterly?

I personally seem to have a harder time with this because I move individual shoots to CD very quickly. I guess I am going to have to off load them from my laptop to my server. Then use a program to build a web based cd like Fotostation. Like Gene I have only really taken the time to copyright images I thought had real resale value over the years. I would like to get to the point of doing everything shot during the month.
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Jonathan Heiliger, Photographer
Menlo Park | CA | USA | Posted: 3:00 PM on 01.07.04
->> Are people using the full Form VA or the short form? Is there any value to one or the other?
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Ed Wolfstein, Photographer, Assistant
Burlington | VT | USA | Posted: 11:02 AM on 01.12.04
->> I use the regular form - it's only 2 pages, with most of it being names and addresses, which doesn't change month-to-month. I suppose either are fine.
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Michael Ciu, Student/Intern, Photographer
Lorain | OH | USA | Posted: 11:19 AM on 01.12.04
->> Do you really have to name each photo on the form? I assume the image number works, but do you have to write it on the form? If so , how are some of you doing it?
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Ed Wolfstein, Photographer, Assistant
Burlington | VT | USA | Posted: 11:46 AM on 01.12.04
->> Heavens, no! The CD-ROM is submitted as a body of work, containing hundreds, if not thousands of images with their filenames only. You don't have to list these filenames on the VA form - only describe what you are submittings (eg. Photos Taken by .... in July 2003) as a whole.

Whew.

- Ed.
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Jason Grow, Photographer
Gloucester | MA | USA | Posted: 12:40 PM on 01.12.04
->> Jonathon,
Use the shortform if you are registering a collection of unpublished images or a singular published image... if you're registering a collection of published images, you need to use the long form and don't forget the continuation form (GR/PPh/Con) because you'll need to indicate a full publication date (dd/mm/yy) for each submission (January 2004 issue would be 01/01/2004) --

Let's lay the copyright at creation issue to rest. Yes, once you affix the image to film or compact flash, you own the copyright (assuming you aren't under WFH agreement). You do NOT have the full protection of the law until you REGISTER the images with the Copyright Office... You will not be able to get an attorney to touch your case without a registration because the limits to what you can collect will not be worth your or their time, and the cost to you will be prohibitive.

Also, it's fine if you want to have an attorney register your images for you, but there's no benefit or anything more or less official in the eyes of the copyright office, so don't let that deter you. This is a relatively simple process that becomes easier the more times you do it.

jg
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Michael Ciu, Student/Intern, Photographer
Lorain | OH | USA | Posted: 1:20 PM on 01.12.04
->> I just wanted to make sure. This is my first time submitting and I didn't want to screw it up. Thanks for all of the help and the motivative info to start sending in images regularly.
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Monty Rand, Photographer
Bangor | ME | USA | Posted: 5:08 PM on 04.22.04
->> OK here's a question. Let's say I have 10,000 images I want to submit to be registered. These image are from the past 5 years. All I need to do is burn them onto a CD and send in $30 and I'm good to go? I would want to submit my most recent work as well as my past work.
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Thread Title: How do you do your copyright workflow?
Thread Started By: Allan Campbell
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