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02/03/2007 11:26:55 PM · #1
This information is based on US Copyright. Copyright laws in other countries will differ.

Registering your images in the US Why Register and How-To
Updated 2/3/2007

Something that a lot of photographers are failing to do here in the US, is register their images with the Copyright Office. They think because their images are automatically copyrighted as soon as the image is created, that they are protected. I found out the hard way a couple of years ago that this isn't totally true. Yes, our images are copyrighted and fall under the U.S. Federal copyright laws. But, as I found out, being protected AND being able to use that protection isn't always possible. Below are some reasons why I register my images and why I try to encourage others to register as well.

I found out just how little the copyright protected me when I had one of my images taken and used without my permission. A woman used one of my images for a commercial ad in a major magazine. I saw the image on the first issue and sent her a letter asking for the standard market value for using the image. She refused. And claimed the image was hers. I could have taken her to court and though both IP lawyers (Intellectual Property) said my case looked pretty clear cut, the cost of doing this might run up to $50k if she wanted to be really stubborn. I found out later that she was worth several million dollars, owned a number of businesses, including an art studio and had at least one IP lawyer available... which is why she probably did decide to be stubborn and see how far I was willing to go. Well, I was ready to go all the way, until I hit a few brick walls.

Even if it never went to court, just the cost of starting the proceedings was going to run a few hundred to several thousand out of pocket. Several thousand that I didn't really have to throw away if I didn't get at least my costs back. And I didn't want to start it if I couldn't finish it. I did get her to pull the picture from the magazine, although it still appeared in two issues out of the 12 issues she had taken the ad out for, but that was about all. She never admitted the image was not hers nor did she pay me.

Even though it was a bitter pill to swallow that I really couldn't do anything, this did turn out to be a learning experience and a wake up call to me. During this time period I was taking 10's of thousands of pictures a year, with most of those being on my web site and viewed by a lot of people. I had always thought I was covered by my copyright. What this first incident taught me was though I am protected, to really be able to take advantage of that protection I need to have my images registered. This is the key to everything having to do with your copyright, and which you will see why it's so imporant a bit further down this message. There are a number of Special benefits to being registered.

To register your images you have to fill out a short form, put the images you want to register on a CD and send them into the Copyright Office along with $45. While it can be a little daunting the first time, it really is as easy as it sounds.

There are some caveats though. You have to have registered your images BEFORE an image is infringed upon to be able to get the special protection registration gives you. If you publish your images (which is basically selling, renting, leasing, etc. It doesn't mean showing them to the public, having them on your web site or even having them published in a publication as long as you weren't paid for it) you have 90 days after they were published to register. After 90 days you can still register (and you should as you will have to register them in any event to sue someone for infringement) you don't get the special protection. If they have never been published, you can register them anytime after creating them. If you do get infringed on and don't have your image registered, but want to sue anyway, you have to register it before you can sue, you just won't get the special benefits.

So what is the special benefit? It's worth all the trouble and effort it takes to register (not that it's that much trouble). If your images are not registered and you sue, you pay your legal fees and court costs. As I said above, this expense can go pretty high in Federal Court. The IP lawyers (Intellectual Property) don't come cheap and there is no small claim's in Federal Court. Even if you win, there are no assurances that you will get a judgment that will cover your costs. You might win and even get no judgment at all. So your pride will be satisfied, but your pockets will be very empty... unless you have deep pockets.

Now if the same thing happens and you have that image registered? Big difference. The number one benefit is that if you sue and win, regardless of if you get a judgment or not, the infringing party gets to pay ALL court costs and legal fees for both of you. And this is paid to the court and lawyers, which have their own way of making sure they get the money owed them. Also, if your images are registered and it's found to be willful infringement, you don't even have to prove damages to receive a judgement of between $750 and $30,000.

If someone infringes on your copyright and they find out the image is registered, the chances are that they will agree to pay you what you want, just to keep it out of court. I know this works too, because the 2nd time I was infringed on for commercial use, that image was registered. I charged her 3 times the commercial rate of the image if it had been used legally (this is one of the recommendations of a IP lawyer). I told her to check with an IP lawyer on what the consequences were if I took her to court. I gave her information on where she could pull up my copyright info on the Copyright Office website database and gave her a deadline. Within the deadline I received a very nice check for the amount I stipulated (3 times the standard commercial rate), plus the deletion of the image from her web site.

When I was infringed on the 3rd time it worked the same way and I got paid. On the 4th occasion, the woman decided to put her head in the sand and ignore me. She had used several of my images over 70 times on her commercial web site, making changes to them. There was no doubt that they were my images though. She wouldn't respond to my e-mails nor did she respond to my registered letter. So I went the next step. The DMCA letter to her hosting site.

Another tool available to copyright holders was created thinks to the internet and the digital world. It was the creation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. This was aimed at hosting sites and ISPs. In short, what it does is provide an avenue for copyright holders to convince a hosting site or ISP to block or take down those sites that are displaying copyrighted images without permission. It also provides a way for those hosting sites and ISPs to protect themselves from being sued for having copyrighted material on their sites without their knowledge. If a copyright holder or their representative (i.e. lawyer) sends a letter to the agent of the hosting site or ISP and tells them that one of their web sites is infringing on their copyright, that site has to either block or remove those images within a reasonable time or they might also be held responsible in any infringement law suit that follows. What they usually do is block or remove the images and notify the owner of the web site. The owner has 10 days to respond and say that no, those images are not infringing on a copyright. They say this under perjury of law (which means if they lie, they have legally perjured themselves). The hosting site will then put the images back up and tell the two parties that it's up to them to take it to court and fight it out. It will take a court order to have them removed after that.

In this latest case, since she would not take my images down from her web site or even talk to me, I followed the outline provided by the DMCA information and sent her hosting site (Earthlink in this case) a letter. I had to also declare that under perjury of law that my statements were true and I was the copyright holder of those images. After about 10 days, they took her whole web site down. Then she answered my e-mail. She was still pretending she didn't know what I was talking about though and even pretended that she took her web site down herself until she had time to deal with it. She then refused to pay what I required of her and wouldn't answer any of my mail again. So I took it the next step.

I contacted my lawyer and turned it over to him. His first course of action was to send a letter outlining the complaint, possible legal actions that could be taken against her and recommended that she seek legal council on the matter. Basically everything that I had told her in my letter, but now it came from an IP lawyer. He also gave her a deadline to respond or we would file in Federal Court. Half way to the deadline (I assume after she had consulted with a lawyer) she contacted my lawyer and said she would pay my requested amount to settle. A week later, I had a nice very big check from her. And another copyright incident closed.

I don't lose any sleep over the occasional use of my images by teenagers (there are a number of teenagers on MySpace that have my flower pictures linked as backgrounds) and grandmothers and people that just think the images are cute and want to use them for a screen saver or a background on their computer. This kind of usage will never stop and is next to impossible to prevent anyway. I do try to educate them if I find out people are doing this... even if it's not one of my images. But when someone takes one of my images and uses it for profit or for other commercial use, then I go after them with everything I can. I found the biggest bullet I can have for this battle is having my images registered.

Any image that sees the light of day on your web site or in any Internet message forum should be registered. Even if you think that your images are so bad that no one would ever use them, you should register them. Every one of the images of mine that were used without my permission were mostly poor quality test shots I did when I was practicing or taking test shots. They were small, low-resolution images. A couple had even been scanned from film. Maybe they thought that there was less chance of anyone noticing or my finding them. But I've yet to catch anyone using one of what I consider my good work.

You might never have a need to use the protection you get from being registered, but the first time you do, you will be very glad you did. I know I've made more from registering my images than I have playing the lottery. And even more than I make from selling my images. A lot more.

Here is some information on registering your images.

The web site to go to is: http://www.copyright.gov/

The areas you want to look at are "About Copyright" and "How to Register Your Work" in the "Visual Arts" section. Photos and digital images fall under Visual Arts.

Under "Publications" and "Forms" you will find the VA form that you need to fill out. If all of your images are the same category, either all published images or all un-published images, you can use the VA Short form. That is a single page. You can print it out from the "Forms" area and fill it out in about 10 minutes. I have a full version of Acrobat so I can type my information into the form on my computer first and then print it out. This makes it easier for me. But it doesn't take long to fill out with a pen either.

There are several good references in the "Circulars and Brochures" under "Publications" also.

Basically, what you want to do is put all of the images you want to register on a CD. Put them as jpegs that are at least 800 pixels or so on the long side and about 35k or so in size. If you only have a few images, you can make them bigger if you want. The key is to have them big enough that if you have to compare them with the image in question, there is no doubt that they are the same. A LOT of images will fit on a CD.

Put a label on the CD with your name and address and the same title you gave the collection of images on the VA Form.

You can put the images in folders on the CD if you want. I do this if I have several different categories, like Scenic, Dog Show, Indoors, etc. If your images are published, send two CDs. If they are not published, you only have to send one CD. Make sure your CD is protected. I had one get broke and it slowed down the certificate of registration by about 3 months because I had to send another CD and though the original day it was received counted as the registration, it still went to the back of the line for processing.

Fill out the form. Write a $45 check (the price went up in 2006). Send it all to the Copyright Office. Use Delivery Confirmation. With Delivery Confirmation you can look up on the USPS web site and see when your package was delivered. When the info is posted that it was delivered, I print the screen off and put it in my files with a copy of the form and one CD. The day they are shown as delivered is the day your registration takes affect. In about 3 months you will get a certificate of registration. A couple of months or so after that, you can find your registration in the Copyright Office website database.

That's about all there is to it. I send in a CD about every 3 to 6 months, depending on how many images I've shot. If I do a big event or one that has images on it that I think might be very popular, I'll send in what I have up to that point and register them.

Also, I want to point out that I'm not a lawyer of any kind. I've done a lot of reading and talked to a couple of IP lawyers about this. But I might have something wrong, or it could have changed or I might have missed something. In fact, there is a good chance that all of the above is true although I try to be as accurate as I can. If you have really important images, or want to make real sure it's all done right and legally, there are lots of IP lawyers that will do this as a service. I'm sure they will be glad to help you.

Some other links of interest:

Bert P. Krages, IP Lawyer and author of several books. Also the lawyer I used. He has some information on his web site.
http://www.krages.com/copy1.htm

The DeBoff Law Group. Author of more books about copyright and information on their web site. My lawyer, Bert Krages, shares building space with the DeBoff Law Group. http://www.dubofflaw.com/

US Code Title 17,512, relating to limitation to online images:
http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00000512----000-.html

Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) about DMCA Safe Harbor Provisions:
http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca512/faq.cgi

The 7 Deadly Myths of Internet Copyright: http://www.glamourmodels.com/resources/articles/070903.html

And there are a bunch more out there if you do searches on the Internet.

I hope this is of help and also encourages a lot of people to get their images registered. Even if you never make any money from it, just having the clout it gives you to tell someone to take your images off their web site or to quit using them really feels good. Especially when it's someone that normally gets away with using other's images.

Mike
02/03/2007 11:28:04 PM · #2
Bravo and thank you, Mike. This information will help a lot of people I'm sure.
02/03/2007 11:42:36 PM · #3
Thanks for the detailed post. In addition to the excellent resources you listed, Nolo Press has books on IP/copyright law, and also about running a business (photography or otherwise) for those who want to DIY without an attorney, but who want more than what the Copyright Office docs provide.
02/03/2007 11:46:21 PM · #4
Thanks Mike, putting this in my faves and adding a watch.
02/03/2007 11:56:06 PM · #5
great post mike ... i'm amazed how many times you've caught people using your images!! damn!!!

i have a question for you:

what do you think would be the best course of action for people who aren't in america? people can probably register in similar ways in their home countries, but for me it's more complex. i travel a lot and move to a new country every few years.

would i be able to register my images in the US even though i'm not a citizen?

do you think all this could be done online?

i'm sure other people would like to register their copyright in america, since the USA is the biggest market and protection of copyright is going to be taken more seriously if it's american copyright.

thanks for the heads up! :)
02/04/2007 12:07:57 AM · #6
Originally posted by super-dave:

what do you think would be the best course of action for people who aren't in america? people can probably register in similar ways in their home countries, but for me it's more complex. i travel a lot and move to a new country every few years.

If your home country is a signatory to the Berne Convention then the protections should be about the same.

"The countries of the Union, being equally animated by the desire to protect, in as effective and uniform a manner as possible, the rights of authors in their literary and artistic works ..." (emphasis added)

It should be possible to register in the US as well though ...

Message edited by author 2007-02-04 00:11:41.
02/04/2007 12:27:03 AM · #7
Originally posted by MikeJ:



There are some caveats though. You have to have registered your images BEFORE an image is infringed upon to be able to get the special protection registration gives you.


When did this change? It used to be that you could register up to 5 years after an infringement.
02/04/2007 12:31:53 AM · #8
Originally posted by GeneralE:

It should be possible to register in the US as well though ...


thanks for all the info ... i've contacted the US copyright office about non-US citizens and i also asked about transferring digital media to them. since it's impossible for me to physically visit their office, whether i need to mail all photographs or whether i can submit material electronically.

i'm curious about the caveat regarding registration before the copyright infringement occurs. that makes it tricky!!
02/04/2007 01:24:24 AM · #9
You are all very welcome. And I hope there are a flurry of registrations that go into the Copyright Office from DPC members. :D

Dave, from what I understand, non-US citizens register in the US all the time. This gives them the same protection in the US as it would a US citizen. I don't think it matters what your citizenship is to be able to go after someone for infringing on you. And it makes sense if you figure the greatest chance of being infringed on is by someone here in the US. And also, from what I understand, a lawyer licensed to work in Federal Court doesn't have to be in the state of the infringement. So you could probably contact a IP lawyer over the internet and have them handle an infringement and never have to come to the US. I believe all you have to do is fill out the form and provide the same information as anyone else to register with the Copyright Office.

Yes, that registration before the infringement for the special benifits is what got me on my first infringement. Of the 4 infringements I've had, I wanted to get her in the worst way. It was her whole attitude of "So what are you going to do about it?" that really got to me.

JMSETZLER, you are partly right. The kicker is the Special provision where the infringer gets to cover the lawyer and court costs. Here is a excerpt from the Offical Copyright Website FAQ page:

Copyright Registration

In general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright. However, registration is not a condition of copyright protection. Even though registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners to make registration. Among these advantages are the following:

* Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.

* Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U.S. origin.

* If made before or within 5 years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.

* 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.

The highlighted area is the part that states you have to be registered before the infringement to get the special priveleges.

One reason why I've manage to catch the 4 infringments is that for a number of years I took a lot of pictures of a specific breed of dog (the Bouvier des Flandres). I've become pretty well known in the Bouvier circles. There are only a couple of us that have taken as many pictures as we have and as far as I know, I'm the only one that has take a lot of agility, herding, formal portraits and other working functions of the breed. I even had Town and Country Magazine hunt me down to be able to use one of my images in one of their issues. I almost blew them off because I thought it was a joke at first. Luckily they weren't that easy to blow off. :D Anyway, when pictures of Bouviers show up on the internet, the work usually gets back to me or my wife and we always check out what others have posted. Me for my photographic interest and her for the breed information. Plus we are always looking at any publications that have Bouviers in them. This is why I've been lucky in finding out about the 4 times in the last 3 years. I probably won't be so lucky with my flowers or scenics or trains or Dragon Boats or other events I shoot at. But if I do, those images are registered too. In the little more than a year I have been on DPC, I have seen a number of threads where somebody has found an image elsewhere that they originally saw on DPC. And it turned out to be someone's image used without permission. And I don't recall any of those being registered. This is a very high profile site with some great images on it. I always find it amazing that people with the talent that are displayed on here (at least the Americans) don't know about or don't register their images. It may not beat getting a DPC Blue Ribbon, but it would be a close second to be able to nail someone for taking one of your images without permission and actually getting some money for it. ;D

Mike
02/04/2007 01:36:22 AM · #10
Originally posted by MikeJ:

Basically, what you want to do is put all of the images you want to register on a CD. Put them as jpegs that are at least 800 pixels or so on the long side and about 35k or so in size. If you only have a few images, you can make them bigger if you want. The key is to have them big enough that if you have to compare them with the image in question, there is no doubt that they are the same. A LOT of images will fit on a CD.

This is the part which surprised me a bit -- I always figured to submit the original captures so that the EXIF data would provide extra evidence, though I guess that can be preserved with the proper SaveAs technique. I guess a batch-resize-resave Photoshop action would help out here ... my 2006 folder is about 40GB.

I thought the Copyright Office would now take them on DVDs as well -- I'd really like to put a year's worth on each disk; the $45 fee (plus mailing) is still a significant amount for a lot of people.

Also, I thought in addition to the digital media, you had to submit some "representative examples" of the work in print form. I was thinking of submitting a printout of the disk directory showing all the filenames (and dates if original captures) and maybe some proof sheets.

Message edited by author 2007-02-04 01:38:53.
02/04/2007 01:57:05 AM · #11
So I am working on a batch export with maximum dimension of 800 pixels, but with .jpg level 3 compression images are still averaging at or above 100kb per image. With .jpg level 0 compression (most noise), many images are still over 100kb! Could you give some information as to the parameters you use? I'm not sure if 800 pixel images can get much smaller while still retaining their ability to serve as a master-file in a comparison.

I have submitted an inquiry to the copyright office as to the ability to submit on DVD-R, DVD+R, or DVD+DL media. Hopefully this will be acceptable. Additionally, their FAQ states that their eventual goal is for online submission, which would be ideal.
02/04/2007 02:40:42 AM · #12
Originally posted by asimchoudhri:

Additionally, their FAQ states that their eventual goal is for online submission, which would be ideal.

Great for registering a single image, but that seems somewhat impractical for a large collection like a month/quarter/year's worth of photos.
02/04/2007 02:50:49 AM · #13
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by asimchoudhri:

Additionally, their FAQ states that their eventual goal is for online submission, which would be ideal.

Great for registering a single image, but that seems somewhat impractical for a large collection like a month/quarter/year's worth of photos.


Unless they accepted zip files with multiple images.
02/04/2007 10:43:52 AM · #14
Originally posted by GeneralE:


This is the part which surprised me a bit -- I always figured to submit the original captures so that the EXIF data would provide extra evidence, though I guess that can be preserved with the proper SaveAs technique.
I thought the Copyright Office would now take them on DVDs as well --

Also, I thought in addition to the digital media, you had to submit some "representative examples" of the work in print form. sheets.


Since EXIF data can be manipulated, I'm not sure how well it would count in court. What my lawyer told me was that the image is pulled from the CD and compared to the one the infringer is using. If there is a good enough likeness that it can be shown the two match, that makes it easy. If there is a question about a match then it can get more complicated (and expensive). Then there is always the case where the same thing could have been photographed by two people and they are simular and any number of things that make it more complicated. You can send in prints rather than digital images, but digital images are acceptable for proof on their own.

Originally posted by asimchoudhri:

So I am working on a batch export with maximum dimension of 800 pixels, but with .jpg level 3 compression images are still averaging at or above 100kb per image. With .jpg level 0 compression (most noise), many images are still over 100kb! Could you give some information as to the parameters you use? I'm not sure if 800 pixel images can get much smaller while still retaining their ability to serve as a master-file in a comparison.

I have submitted an inquiry to the copyright office as to the ability to submit on DVD-R, DVD+R, or DVD+DL media. Hopefully this will be acceptable. Additionally, their FAQ states that their eventual goal is for online submission, which would be ideal.


I have heard you can send in DVD now as well.

On your image, make sure it's 8 bit and not 16 bit. I went back and checked my early CD folders. Most of my images were in the 25k to 75k size. I sized them between 500 pixels and 750 pixels on the long side. I don't remember what quality I used, but it was probably around 8 (out of the max for Photoshop 7.0 at the time) I can't remember how many images I had on that first CD, but it was full. After about the 3rd CD, I didn't have as many images because I was sending them in at shorter intravels... plus the cost was on $35 then. My last few CD's the images are up in the 100k range and bigger sized. When I upgraded to the 10D and 1DMKII with it's embedded jpeg images with the raw image, it made it easier. I just extract the jpeg, run it through a gallery creation program that will create thumbnails if I need to fit a lot of images on the CD or just use the jpeg file if they will all fit on the CD. I have some CD's that have only a few thousand images on them, so there is plenty of room and I didn't go to the trouble of making them smaller.

Because I write my images to my hard drive by date taken, it's easy for me to see when the last CD was I sent, go to my digital folder, grab all the images from that point on, copy them to another drive and start preping them for a CD. I like to keep them in order, either by sujbect, event, date or something like that that will make it easier to find if I need too. Even with my organizing the images, sometimes it takes me a while to go through a lot of images to find the one I think it is. I keep a copy of how the CD looks on a hard drive as well as keeping two CD copies of the CDs I sent in. I also keep copies of all the forms and delivery comformation slips in a folder.

The first couple of CDs I did took some work orginizing the images, rounding them up, sizing them, etc. Once I started doing this though, from that point on, I kept in mind that my images were going to be sent in, so I mostly orginize them as part of my processing. It makes it a lot easier and quicker when I decide to send another CD in. I wish my wife kept track of her images as well as I do. Doing her's is a real pain. Luckily she doesn't shoot quit as much as I do. LOL!

Mike
02/04/2007 10:48:13 AM · #15
i got a reply from the us copyrights office, i'll paste it for everyone's benefit:

******************************************************************

1). All works that are unpublished, regardless of the nationality of the author, are protected in the United States and may be registered. Works that are first published in the United States or in a country with which we have a copyright treaty or that are created by a citizen or domiciliary of a country with which we have a copyright treaty are also protected and may therefore be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. See Circular 38a on our website at http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ38a.pdf for the complete list of member countries with which the US has relations. See also http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl100.html .

You are not required to register your work with the US Copyright Office. However, there are some significant legal advantages to doing so, particularly if you plan on publishing or distributing your work in the US. The benefits in registering with the US Copyright Office in a timely manner are: (1) substantial reduction of litigation costs; (2) greater certainty of winning an infringement case; (3) likely recovery of attorney's fees; and (4) eligibility for statutory damages. See "Copyright Registration" at http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#cr for an outline of these benefits.

There are no limitations.

2) We do not presently have online registration available. However, you may send your photographs on one or more CD/DVDs in in one of these formats: JPEG, GIF, TIFF, or PCD. You will need to mail this material together with the completed VA application form (available on our website) and the $45 filing fee.

For payment, we require a draft, payable to the Register of Copyrights, in 45 US dollars, redeemable without service or exchange fee through a US institution and imprinted with American Banking Association routing numbers. Checks drawn on foreign accounts, international money orders and postal money orders that are negotiable only at post office are not acceptable.

If you cannot obtain a draft from your bank or an international bank as described above, you may wish to consider:
1) signed travelers checks for $45US (if you need to purchase $50, you may request the $5 refund from our office); or
2) sending your material to a US contact, who may then, in turn, submit your material with a check drawn on a US account.

******************************************************************

that answers a lot of questions, including the last one about file formats and being able to send in DVDs.

so you can probably submit 2000 jpg photos on a dvd and really get your $45 worth.

doing that once a year would keep you covered! LOL
02/04/2007 11:29:56 AM · #16
Originally posted by super-dave:

that answers a lot of questions, including the last one about file formats and being able to send in DVDs.

so you can probably submit 2000 jpg photos on a dvd and really get your $45 worth.

doing that once a year would keep you covered! LOL


2000 Photos on a DVD for me might cover me for a month. :-)
While this is something I really should be doing, I'm not sure that spending an extra $45 a month is going to be something that I'm going to do. But I appreciate the OP's efforts for putting this together it sure makes a person think.

MattO
02/04/2007 12:16:27 PM · #17
Great follow up, David. Thanks for adding it. I know the people at the Copyright Office are really good about answering questions. When I sent a question in to them the end of Dec., I figured it would be the after the New Year before I'd hear. Nope, I got an answer on Dec. 31st.

My first CD had something like 8 or 9,000 images on it. I had it stuffed. And it was only $35 then. :D

Matt, I sure can understand. It took the first time someone using one of my images to get my attention. And it made me so mad (even 3 years later my blood pressure still goes up over it) that I couldn't afford to do anything that I have made the effort ever since to send in my images. The couple of big payoffs I've gotten from it has helped keep me motivated to send in new images on a regular basis. Anger and money are two big motivators. LOL! And this last person ticked me off almost as much as the first person did and I was so glad I was able to get her to pay for stealing my images. So, satisfaction is also a big motivator.

Mike
02/04/2007 12:48:17 PM · #18
Great post!

Too bad they don't have triple damages like you get if you knowingly infringe on a patent! But paying for your legal fees is pretty nice and makes it easier to go after these folks.

So how do you end up finding your images? Pure luck?
02/04/2007 12:52:51 PM · #19
Originally posted by MikeJ:

Great follow up, David. Thanks for adding it. I know the people at the Copyright Office are really good about answering questions. [...]

No kidding! I sent them an email about DVD submissions at 1:55 am on a Sunday, and had a response before noon! Their response: CD and DVD submissions are acceptable.
02/04/2007 01:06:02 PM · #20
Originally posted by super-dave:

... you may send your photographs on one or more CD/DVDs in in one of these formats: JPEG, GIF, TIFF, or PCD. You will need to mail this material together with the completed VA application form (available on our website) and the $45 filing fee.

... signed travelers checks for $45US (if you need to purchase $50, you may request the $5 refund from our office) ...

Thanks for the helpful follow-up. I've highlighted what are the two most pleasant surprises I found in their reaponse. : )
02/04/2007 03:06:16 PM · #21
Originally posted by dleach:

Great post!

Too bad they don't have triple damages like you get if you knowingly infringe on a patent! But paying for your legal fees is pretty nice and makes it easier to go after these folks.

So how do you end up finding your images? Pure luck?


Actually, there is. They have several different catagories of infringement. Willful infringement and willful infringement for profit are two of them. The willful infringement for profit can kick the penilties up to $150,000 or more for each incidence. If you have a copyright notice on your image, or there was very little chance that they could have gotten to your image without knowing it was copyrighted by you, then that is willful infringement. If they do that and then use the image to make money or some other profit, that for profit. What adds on to that is they can be hit with a judgement on the "Gross Potential Profit" of the infringement. They don't have to actually make that amount, it just has to be shown that they could have made that amount based on what they were using the image for. So someone can get hammered pretty hard under the right circumstances. Of course it all comes back to being able to collect the money. In a civil case, if they don't have it, they don't have it. Just like the OJ Simpson civil trial. He didn't have the money to pay the civil judgement against him, but he doesn't go to jail or anything because of it either. It's just hanging over his head if he makes any money in the future. Also, with willful infringement, there can be criminal charges brought by the Copyright Office and is seperate from a infringement suit by the copyright holder.

Finding them is only part luck. I posted up above (about the 9th post) how I've managed to find out about these. I've seen a lot of people on DPC get told that their images was seen on some other site. So luck and having other people keep an eye out for you play a big part of it.

Mike


02/07/2007 02:15:36 AM · #22
bump
02/07/2007 02:41:33 AM · #23
aha! didn't see this thread before. thanks for the bump!

02/09/2007 06:43:44 PM · #24
A bump in the right place can be very benifical. LOL!

Mike
02/11/2007 11:29:25 AM · #25
Thank you Mike for all the useful information. I had no idea.
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