Failure to register published within 90 days?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by paulie_smith|1, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. If someone pulishes their photo online and then leaves it up for a number of months while failing to file the copyright paperwork within 90 days of publication, does the image now fall into 'public domain' as far as someone else posting it online or using it elsewhere?
    Do they lose the ability to file suit for infringement? Lose the right to file a DMCA takedown notice? Or, if they file a DMCA notice and it is brought out the image was never registered can they be nailed for filing a bogus DMCA notice?
  2. There is no registration requirement for copyright ownership or enforcement.
  3. It depends on your jurisdiction, but in the US and in other jurisdictions that adhere to the Berne Convention there is no need to file for copyright. At the moment of creation when a photograph or artwork is "fixed" in a tangible form, copyright applies automatically.
    HOWEVER, if you plan on fighting for punitive damages if your photos are used without your permission, (rather than just asking that the image be taken down), you may need to have your photo registered with your local copyright office. In the US, you can find filing instructions HERE.
    This does not necessarily protect your copyright in other countries/jurisdictions.
  4. Presuming you're talking about the US: If the image isn't registered with the copyright office, certain types of remedies are off the table (such as pursuit of a large, punitive spanking in federal court), but the photographer's copyright is intact from the moment the image is made, and stays that way unless it is formally assigned to someone else. And yes, it's always possible to sue someone over mis-use, and to enforce DMCA actions, whether or not the image is formally registered with the copyright office.

    Reading between the lines, here, it sounds as if someone is trying to claim that since your work has been online for more than X number of days, and it's not registered, that you've no recourse for their no-permission-granted use of it? If so, they're lying, and they know they are. They're just trying to get away with something. Enforce your copyrights. Every time you don't, leeching content thieves feel that much better about their actions.
  5. There is no registration requirement for copyright... ...enforcement.​
    That would be true if it wasn't false...
    "A certificate of registration (or a rejection of an application for copyright) is a prerequisite for U.S. authors seeking to initiate a suit for copyright infringement in federal district court." civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has been made...
  6. Always good to be educated in this area of copyrights. The links already given are good. A book reference that I use all the time is "The Copyright Handbook" by Nolo: An easy read and very thorough.
    First, timely registration according to statutes is
    1) within 90 days of pulishing "or"
    2) Before a copyright infringement occurs
    If you have not done timely registration relative to a copyright infringement, you are limited to your actual losses and any profits of the infringer due to the copyright infringement. This can be an issue because proving their profits can be difficult and you have to also show your actual losses. Considering attorneys can be easily in the $200 a hour range to go after the infringer, having this come out as a positive dollar proposition is problematic.
    If you have done timely registration, there are major benefits in persuing a copyright infringement.
    a) you can recover attorney fees
    b) you can recover court costs
    c) and most importantly, you can be awarded what is called statutory damages instead of actual damages. Statutory damages can go up to the $150,000 range as determined by the judge based on how deliberate/harmful/egregious the copyright violation i.e sock it to them
    So timely registration has real benefits and realistically much better protection and ability to go after someone effectively. Hope that helps.

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