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Copyright registration for photographers

Thursday September 13, 2012
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Protecting your Copyright

We recommend that all photographers, whether they reside within or outside the US, register their photographs with the US Copyright Office.

Among other benefits, registration makes it much easier for Getty Images to protect your rights. When possible, it’s best to submit your copyright registration application before submitting the images to Getty Images so that they may be registered as unpublished works. Once they are uploaded to our website, they are considered published.

When you have registered the copyright in your images, please send the registration information (registration number, effective date, title of work) and/or copies of the certificates to copyright@gettyimages.com.

Copyright Registration with the United States Copyright Office

Claims to copyright in either published or unpublished photographs may be registered with the Copyright Office. The Copyright Office website address is www.copyright.gov. Instructions for copyright registration of photographs may be found in Factsheet 107. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, for general information.

When possible, it is cheaper to submit a copyright application online. Paper application forms may also be used and Form VA (Visual Arts) or Short Form VA may be used to apply for copyright registration for photographs.

For groups of published photographs, Form GR/PPh/CON must be used and submitted in hard copy (as of August 2012). See Factsheet 124, Group Registration of Published Photographs, for details on registering a collection of published photographs. The Copyright Office is reviewing the feasibility of allowing group registrations in published photographs to be submitted online. For permission to submit electronic applications to register copyrights in groups of published photographs, call the Copyright Office’s Visual Arts Division at (202) 707-8202.

Published and unpublished photos cannot be registered on the same application.

Copyright Public Records

Once a registration is completed and cataloged, it becomes part of the public record. All information you provide on your copyright registration form will be available to the public, and some of it will be on the Internet. You may wish to consider whether you want to include on your application any optional detail that you consider to be sensitive.

Online or hard copy registration applications

To submit a copyright registration application online, go to www.copyright.gov/eco (you will need to sign up as a registered user) and follow the instructions. The fee is $35 US for one application (as of August 2012) if submitted online, and if you are registering unpublished photographs, multiple photographs may be submitted using one application.

If you prefer to submit a hard copy application, send the following material in the same envelope or package to the Library of Congress, Copyright Office-VA, 101 Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. 20559:

1. A correctly completed application form;
2. A $65 nonrefundable filing fee for each application; and
3. A nonreturnable deposit (or copy) of the work to be registered (e.g., a CD or printouts).

See the Circular 40a, Deposit Requirements for Registration of Claims to Copyright in Visual Arts Material, for further details regarding deposits.

Please note: While it can take up to 4 or 5 months, or even longer, for the certificate of registration to be returned to the copyright claimant, the date of registration is the date the submission is received in the copyright office.

More Information

The United States Copyright Office website www.copyright.gov is an excellent source of information.

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