Becoming a professional photographer takes years of training and experience, so protecting your photos from copyright infringement is an important investment. Thanks to digital technology and social media such as Instagram and Facebook, it is easier than ever to copy and share photos without the original photographer’s permission. If you have questions about how copyright law applies to photographers, the team at Duncan Firm can provide you with answers.
Whenever you take a photograph, whether using old fashion 35mm film or the latest digital technology, you become its copyright holder as the author, unless you have signed a contract stating that your image belongs to someone else or may be “work for hire.” For example, you may be taking publicity photos for a company, and under the terms of your employment, the photos may belong to the company. Different laws apply depending on the circumstances and any contracts you have signed.
As with other forms of creative expression, though, you must make sure to register your work with the US Copyright Office to have before making a copyright infringement claim in court. If someone uses your photo without permission, it is this registration that gives you grounds to sue. Photographers have won cases where their images were used without permission in ad campaigns or social media posts.
If you intend to use a copyrighted photograph, you should always consider getting permission from the copyright holder and include an accurate photo credit. This is especially important for publishers of books, magazines, newspapers, and online articles. Even if you are reposting someone else’s image on social media and not using it for monetary gain, you may be infringing copyright.
Photographs are forms of creative expression that fall squarely within the protection of current copyright law. If you are a photographer seeking to protect your images from unauthorized use, the team at Duncan Firm will make sure that you have all the information and assistance you need. James Bartolomei has been lead counsel several recent notable copyright infringement cases including: