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How-to: Copyright Registration

Lesson 12 from: Copyright, Trademark, and Intellectual Property for Photographers

Rachel Rodgers

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Lesson Info

12. How-to: Copyright Registration

Lesson Info

How-to: Copyright Registration

Let's actually take step and go through a copyright registration so everyone get out their checklist your bonus registration, your copyright registration for photographers bonus pull that out and let's follow it along together on go through the process of figuring out a copyright registration so step one in the application we're not even do anything yet ok, we're not going to the copyright office's website yet we're not filling out anything yet first step is to determine if your photos are published or unpublished and this could be kind of funky okay, so and you'll see it's all written up in the bonus, but just so you have a good understanding of it. Um, unpublished photos are easier to register and so whenever possible, the ideal situation would be for you to go ahead and register your photos as soon as you take them before they're actually published. Okay, if you do that, then that makes it easier for you to get your copyright registrations done regularly, and I would actually recomm...

end that you do it either monthly or quarterly build it into the system of how you run your business so that you're doing your copyright registration regularly and that all your photos or captured okay and all your photos or registered be a copyright and obviously if you've got throwaway photos like ones that are fuzzy or didn't come out good, you can exclude those that anything that's, that's, you know, usable and that's good stuff. You definitely want to register the copyright for, ok? And I'll just make another note. Tio, is that you want to d'oh your best photos first, so, you know, obviously you've already got thousands of photos that you've taken as a professional photographer, so if you're just now getting around to registering your copyrights, why don't you start with your best stuff? So whatever your best stuff is, I would take those first seven hundred fifty of your best photos and register those first, and then, you know, you can sort of system a tie, like, systematically go through the other photos that you have and see what is worth registering the copyright for and then going forward create a practice of every three months or depending on how many photos you produce on a regular basis, maybe you want to do it monthly, just register the copyright for that set of photos that you've done in the last month or the last three months. Okay? And like I said, I'm going to teach you how to do it yourself so you don't have to hire a lawyer every time you do a copyright registration, and the application fee is thirty five bucks, okay, you can afford that. All right, especially if you're selling the copyright to your photos and making thousands of dollars every time you d'oh, right? So it's worth it to protect your work. Thirty five bucks for the application and I'm going to show you how to do it. So on the issue of published or unpublished like I said, we want to start. We want to go with unpublished photos whenever possible. Now, what exactly does it mean to be a published photo? Well, of course, like a lot of things in the law, we have no idea. Okay, all right, maybe that's not entirely true. We have a little bit of an idea, but it's sort of a wishy washy thing. It's not a black and white answer. So published means things like published on a popular web site or, you know, maybe given to your client. So if you've transferred the photos to your clients in some way and given them those images either through prints or through, you know, the digital photos that you sold it to them that might be considered published, you know, it's sort of wishy washy on whether it is or not there. You know, if it's in a magazine that most likely is considered published, if it's published in a large study where a lot of people have seen it, it's a published photo ok, and you can still register the copyright for those and there's a step by step process for how to do that in here. I'm not going to go through that with you today because I don't want to confuse you too much I'm going to show you this system for you to do going forward if you've got published photos, then all you got to do is follow in this little bonus and there's exactly what to do for published photos as well, but just to avoid confusion, I'm going to tell you exactly what to do for unpublished photos that's what we're going to do today because that's, what I want you to do going forward, okay, so whatever you've got, you know you're going to register your best stuff and then going forward, you register your unpublished photos before their shared with the world on a regular basis, right? So quarterly monthly, however, often makes sense in your business depending on how many shoots you're doing a week and how many photos you're producing on a regular basis. Okay, awesome. So on dh just one last thing on the published versus unpublished photos bit that I want you to understand is that, um the copyright office acts you as the creator to make a determination of whether the photo was published or not, so if you consider the photo unpublished let's say you put it on your website, but you don't have a huge, you know, following on your website and, you know, it's only been viewed by let's say, you know, a couple hundred people, maybe, and you, if you feel that that is not a published photo, then you can register it as unpublished it's it's up to you to make that determination, okay? And there's a little bit of more details about how to do that in this bonus, guys, so that when you get ready to walk through it, you can sort of understand how to sort your photos. One thing that's important to know is that you cannot register published photos with unpublished photos. Okay, so if you have published photos, you're going to do one application for that, and then you need to a separate application for all your unpublished photos. Okay, are you confused enough yet don't ask me why the copyright office makes this differentiation? I have no idea what they're smoking or why they make the decisions that they make. We don't care about that, right? All they care about is knowing what the law is and how to protect ourselves. So what you need to know is when you're registering photos published photos, air done one way. Unpublished photos are done in another application, so just do it separately, okay, don't bundle them together, but the good news is is that you can register large amounts of your photos whether they're published or they're they're unpublished all at one time and that really makes it easy for you to register your photos and not have to do one of the time like a crazy person, right? Because that would just take up too much time. All right, so let's get to it so we're actually going to navigate over to the copyright office website. I'm just gonna walk through this right here on asking for us. You can see exactly what you need to do. We'll answer all the different questions and you can actually see, you know the process of registering your copyright. All right, so this is copyright dot gov, this is the u s copyright office is office's website now, if you have a question about whether you should be registering your copyright in the u s if you're let's, say international one thing that's important for you to know is that even for a lot of my international clients, they still take steps to register their copyright in the us because they have a large market of customers or clients or potential clients in the u s and also just because the u s has a really great copy heart registrations system so it makes it easy for them tio record their creation and create that sort of birth certificate like I said of their photos. So even if you're in let's say canada or australia or you know the u k who doesn't have a formal copyright registration system you may still want to register your copyrights in the u s that's something to explore and think about depending on who your market is and you know especially if you are selling your photos to magazines in the u s or international magazines or newspapers or other you know large large companies that are international it might still be worth it to register your your copyright in the in the u s as well as in your home country so just something to think about a note for our international viewers all right? So we're on the copyright doctor of website so you're going to do is go right here register a copyright file a copyright registration for your work through the copyright office online system ok, so we're going to click here are writing and then we're going to log in. Teo iko iko is the name of the elektronik copyright application system so we'll click that already so you'll get to this page with user I d and password, which you don't have yet if you've never registered a copyright before um so you're going to go down here and in hit new user so let's go through and I'm just going to fill this out now this does have this system does have some really funky um requirements for your password so I actually put that right on your copy right registration for photographers she so you actually know what the password requirements are because you know if you're doing this for the first time, you'll go through the system like three times before you figure it out and they don't tell you until like two screens later eso it'll just piss you off, you know? So to avoid that I've put the actual passer and requirements there and I've come up with a password for myself so that we don't have to go through all of that all right? So let's just finish figuring this out user idea I'm going to go with our bury sixteen uh for the password I'm going to do are dog spelled d a w g because you can't use any actual dictionary words believe it or not it's kind of nuts and then I may use fifteen and exclamation point and hopefully that'll that'll do it okay okay, so a challenge question um let's say what your pets name as a challenge question about that and let's go with scruffy okay so easy enough then we're going to put in the andress I'll put in my business address spell that ah that's in gonna fly new jersey but in the zip but in my work lines and now all you guys know how to contact me um and your preferred contact method let's go with email I would highly recommend choosing email because you want to have a written record of anything that they send you should there be a situation where there's some type of challenge or any issues with your copyright registration so let's go with email so that you've got it in written form and you know it's faster than snail mail all right, so this is just a little notice letting you know that when it's time to pay for your application that thirty five dollars it's going to send you to another website and then bring you back so okay, we're cool with that all right? So we're gonna click finish to finish registering and boom here is the elektronik copyright office application so it's a little you know it's not super user friendly as the government tends to be obviously but totally doable. Okay, so what you're going to do here this is, you know, obviously your navigation. So once you've registered a lot of copyrights or even just one, you'll be able to look at your open cases, you're working cases you're all your for your case is you can see the status of your different applications that all of it will be hanging out around here once you've submitted a couple of applications? S oh, just so you know, it'll all be sort of recorded there. Um, but here's, what you're going to use register a new claim that's how we're going, tio start the application so it's going to ask you a couple of questions? The first one is are you registering one work? Um so for you most likely you're going to say no because you're not registering one work you're registering aa lot of photos, right? So you're not just going to do one work, so the answer to that most likely for us the photographer is going to be no, then the next question is, are you the only author and owner of the work? So for the answer for that is going to be yes, you're only going to register stuff that you actually and the author and owner off on dh so just a quick note here. If you have given away and sold the copyright to your creative works in a client service agreement, for example, then you are not going to register the copyright for it, right? Because the legal rights to that belong to now the client that you've sold it to so then it would be the client that would register the copyright for it, okay, so just a quick note for you to know um so does the work you are sending contained material created on ly by this author and so the answer is yes, all of the work is created by you alone, so now we're going to start the registration so they ask you the type of work, so if you're registering photos, you're going to put work of the visual arts this would also be used for like illustrations graphic designs things like that so anything that's, you know, a painting visual artistry would be work of the visual arts literary work would be like an e book for example, a sound recording you know, any type of audio or, you know, if you have a song or something like that, work of the performing arts would be like a play or some type of choreography and then motion picture a v work would be for films you know are you know, any type of obviously motion picture and then a good question that people often have at this stage is well, what if the work contains two types of things let's say you're registering an e book that has, you know, your written recommendations for photographers and then it also has got your photos in it that show photographers you're different lighting methods or posing or something like that that you're including it in the book then you would choose the dominant one ok, I would say for something like that, if the photos are the primary thing that you want to protect them, you would put work of the visual arts, ok? So that's, what we're going to choose because we're protecting photos on did you know just so you know, to there's all these little help options here you conclude thes and a little help a little pop of wool, you know, come up and you can read through it and it will help you guide you through the application, but, you know, if you're using this cheat sheet and watching this video, then you won't need that, but it's there, just in case something comes up and you have a question, but work of the visual arts is how do you, how you protect your photos? And then you just click the box to say that you've read the description above and understand it. So, you know, you can see that on the second line in the middle there it says photographs ah, you're clear that what you're registering is covered under this section. All right, so the next you're going to hit continue. All right? So now they want to know the title of the work, so, you know, this is, you know, up to you, um, you're put the title type, so title of the work being registered it could be a serious title if there's a syriza photos involved it could be a title of a larger work if this is part of a larger work but for the most part you're just going to choose title of work being registered and it's up to you what you want to call it so we could call it you know rachel rogers photos from you know january two thousand fifteen okay, so we'll hit save for that and that's the name of the work and this is also this is what would be searched for example I wouldn't recommend creating a system for this so you might say your name photos from, you know quarter one two thousand fifteen if you're doing it quarterly but this is for your records to understand on dh then also you know if you're if you're registering works that are part of ah you know, larger work or not part of a larger work but part of a project that's really specific and maybe even semi famous or something like that then in that circumstance you might want to give it a name related tio whatever it is that you're photographing s o that's an option to you have a lot of leeway with the title so don't get obsessed just to something that makes sense for you and that searchable on dh you're good to go so then we're gonna hit continue so this one is asking whether the work is published, which we had talked about, that we're going to choose unpublished for this work, so it had it says how's, this workman published, the answer is new, and then this is just asking if you have pre registered your work honestly, pre registration is really not necessary, so we're going to skip that um, and then you'll just put the year of completion or the year of creation, so that's going to be two thousand fifteen and continue okay, so now it's asking who the authors are, right so here's some options one is you can add new, so if the author is somebody that you've never added in a copyright registration before which in most cases it will be, then you could hit new the other alternative, which is a little bit easier for you, is you just they add me, right? Because when we first registered, we went through the process of, uh, you know, putting your name and your address and all that information so you can just add yourself right here, and it skips having to do that all again, right? So see, it pops in my information that I gave earlier it asked your citizenship or domicile, so, you know, for me, I'm in the united states and you know where it might ask what your country is or where you live, so you just fill that in the year of birth, which is nineteen, eighty two um and I'm not dead yet, thank god. So I won't feel that in, but the reason why they ask you for your year of birth is because the length of your copyright protection is related do you know how old you are and how long you lived hill and all of that? So that's why they ask you, you know, what is your year of birth? Andi? I think also one of the other things is just for identifying you to make it clear that it's this rachel rogers here and not some some other rachel address that was born in nineteen seventy five, you know, and this is also where they're going to ask about works made for higher, so it asked you the question is this author's contribution, a work made for higher meaning that did this author not own the copyright it's an author, but they don't own it it's actually another organization that owns it. So then you would click yes, okay, but in your case you own it it's not somebody else that owned it it's not a works made for higher, so you're going to put no okay, and then this anonymous and pseudonyms and stuff like that is related to, you know, some authors like tio have their identity remain anonymous, and so this enables that to happen, but not not applicable here, so we're gonna hit save and then you know, it asked you, what type of visual art did you create? So here, obviously, the answer is photographs, you know, it's a ve and, you know, if you had other authors, so like, if it was a joint, work with multiple photographers on it, and you're going toe on the work jointly that's when you'd add new and at other authors, but for for our purposes, you're the only owner, so we're just gonna hit continue, okay, so this is asking you who the copyright claimant isthe right? So at that last screen, they asked you about works made for hire. Now, if it was a valid works made for higher, and it was actually a different company that was going to own the copyright, then for this question, you would add in that other company who is the owner. So they're the copyright claimant there the owner for your purposes, you on the work as well as are the author of it, so you would just add yourself again, so you hit ad me boom, there you go. Make sure your address is correct because this is the address that you're going. They're going to send your copyright certificate too. So make sure it's a valid address. Um and you know, if you were transferring it that's, when you need this, transfer a statement info, but you don't need any of that because it's not a transfer it's your own work. So you just hit save your the claimant, okay? And this is where you would add any other copyright claimants if there was multiple but there's not so we're going to continue moving right along. Okay, so this screen is where you would limit your claim, right? So this is this is really applicable if let's say someone like me, right? I created this guide, one that I mentioned earlier legal nunchucks for photographers, right? So for that work, it has a lot of photographs in it, but they're not my photos. Their photos that I've life and purchased a license to use from from photographers, right? Or from, you know, a stock photo company or something like that. So when I'm registering something like that, this screen is where I would limit my claim to the words because I wrote the words, the words are mine, and I'm the author and the claim it for those words but I'm not the author and claimant for the photos itself I don't want to give the impression that I made I created those photos because I didn't you know so this is where you would say exclude certain material so I would exclude the photographs from my e book in this screen for you as a photographer there's probably not going to be much to exclude so I would just probably skip this step you don't want to limit your registration in anyway unless there's someone else's copyrighted content that's you know a part of this work and therefore it needs to be excluded in some way so you just hit continue okay, so this is where you provide contact information let's say you had an agent and you want to put your agent and throw in there and that way you know if there was a company that was looking tio you know, license your work you put their contact information in there for most of us if you're a small business is probably just use you can just hit add me. And so that way if there's an organization going through the copyright registrations and looking tio either license or purchase a work or get permission to use their work in some way this is the information that they'll use to do that so you want to make sure that this information is good then you'll hit continue and then this is the person the copyright office will contact about this application so when I'm filling out an application like this for my clients I'm gonna put my own information and they're my law firm because I don't want the copyright office to ask my clients complicated questions about their copyright application right? I want those questions come to me that's what they're paying for so I put my information here when you're doing your own application you want to put your own information there so the copyright office can contact you if there's any questions so there's a lot of repetition writes just adding your own information in there and just so you have an idea you know questions that might come up if there's an exclusion if you've checked the work for hire box if there's any type of issue with the application or something that's confusing they'll come they'll contact you to clarify those things usually it's not a complicated issue so don't feel like you can't field calls from the copyright office you can definitely answer their questions and then if you ever get out of your depth you know and it's really complicated then you can always you know, hire a lawyer to maybe you know, pay for an hour of their time to take that call and deal with that issue but most likely this is a fairly straightforward process you're not gonna have any issues so uh this is the you know where you uh put in the name and address to where the registration certificate should be mailed it would be the same thing um and you had continue so it's just a lot of plugging your info in there so this would be for special handling if there's like some compelling reason why this would be why this application should be expedited for example if there's if someone had stolen one of your photos and your registering it now after the fact um and there's pending or perspective litigation you know there's a legal dispute brewing then you could click that and they might be pushing your application forward faster if you cook that and can show them you know you fill in the explanation for why you needed fast tracked other reasons would be like customs matters or a contractor publishing deadline they would move your application forward faster and there's usually a surcharge for that they were charging a little bit more but for the most part you're not going to have that issue so you can just hit continue and then this is where you're guaranteeing that you are the author copyright claimant owner of these exclusive rights that you're getting with copyright registration so you're you know basically taking an oath um so obviously you want to be telling the truth here and then you put your own name in as the certifying individual and you had continue okay and you're pretty much done ok? So that's the entire process totally not that hard right? Eso after this what I recommend is that you hit save for later or save the template because then you can use this as a template and whenever you upload photos you can just start with this application with all this information popped in and then you could just go teo use the navigation over here go to titles, change the title to this new set of works that you're registering and then you could skip all that stuff in just add to cart so once that's done you had add to cart and then you didn't check out and then that's when it takes you to another screen you can pay by, you know your checking account or credit card it will take you to another screen where you can then pay or thirty five dollars fee or for this it's fifty five dollars was it various? I think actually they just raise the fees right? So it's fifty five dollars for the application so you just hit pay and then you know I'll tell you what happens next once you go through this pace screen, then the next thing and that's going to happen is that you're going to jump to submit work so you see we're on the upper hand corner it's it's like yellow for pay your on the pace screen then once you make the payment, like I said, they made a guarantee that, you know, we understand that's going to send us to another government site to pay you put in your credit card info, then you're kicked back here and then you get a screen where it says where you can upload your work so all you're going to do is then take your photos and upload them on gone the copyright office's website there's actually a a list of all the different types of formats you can have your photos in, they pretty much accept everything, so you should be good to go. Another thing that you can do to make this easy as you can take all seven hundred fifty of the photos and you can actually put it in a zip file so that you can upload it all together. So you go through the payment process and me in the uploading process and then you're done your works are you know you're registration application is submitted now this doesn't mean that you have a copyright registration, right? Because first the copyright office has to actually process that application and that usually takes now it takes about four months, so don't be alarmed you submit the application and then in about four months you'll either get a letter in the mail from the copyright office with the actual copyright registration certificate attached or if there's any issues, they'll probably email you and ask you questions and you know you can deal with those questions to get the registration through but it's a fairly simple process I wanted to walk you through it as you can see how easy it is. This does not have to be overwhelming and like I said, it's incredibly important to give you peace of mind and to know your work is protected and then once you've got your certificate in hand, you've got the right to file a federal lawsuit if you need to, someone steals your work, especially a big company, which I've seen many times in recent years. Unfortunately, it also, you know, provide this your little birth certificate of the photos that you have created, and it gives you statutory damages and attorney's fees if you need to file a lawsuit so very, very important. So this is just, you know, the steps that we've gone through first you've determined if the photos were published or unpublished, we prepared the deposits so I would actually do that next time before you go to the application, you would just create that file of all of your photos on dh, you know, just put it in the easy for mitt that's, easy to upload, then you know, you fill out the application, which we just did and you answer all the questions and pay the feed and upload the photos or the files that you put them in. And boom, you're done. And then you can do your happy dance. S o that's, the copyright registration process. Totally doable, right? Yea, give yourself a round of applause. Once you get this done on dh, like I said, created system in your business to do this on a regular basis.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Rachel Rodgers - Copyright Cheatsheet for Photographers .pdf
Rachel Rodgers - Photographer Clauses.docx

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Absolutely brilliant! I was feeling so anxious and unclear about all of this stuff having recently taken on a commercial client. This answered all my questions, and explained everything I needed to know in such a clear and simple way. One of the best classes I could have purchased for my business at this stage, and an absolute bargain!

a Creativelive Student

This class is valuable. I feel like a bandit for what I paid. Rachel Rogers is definitely in your corner to help you make sense of the nebulous nuances that could very well be the difference between you making or missing your money goals.

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