There are many misunderstandings about copyrighting photographs. Let us try to clarify a few of them….
Yes, it is true that any photo you take is yours and is technically “copyrighted”. However, you are not fully protected and are only entitled to collect the actual cost from the individual stealing your photograph. The actual cost would be what you would charge for the one-time use of the image. It may not include attorney fees or other expenses. This is why it is so important that you register your photos through the Library of Congress. To put it in layman’s terms, a photo that has been registered with the Library of Congress is a “Copyright Registered” photo. By registering your work, you are truly protecting your images. An individual stealing and using your Copyright Registered image for a commercial purpose or using a registered image without your written permission may be responsible for attorney’s fees, actual costs, and punitive damages which can be extreme.
Registering your photos with the Library of Congress can be done two ways. Here’s the process we use: Every three months, we compress our photos that we took over the preceding three months and save them to DVDs. We complete the application form on the Library of Congress website http://www.copyright.gov/forms/formva.pdf ), pay the $85.00 processing fee and mail the DVD’s via certified mail to the Library of Congress. Many of the images that we send in have not even been processed yet and may even be deleted in the future. It does not matter. We just send in whatever we have shot. One Form VA application, one check for $65.00 and as many images as you want to submit (1 DVD or 30, it does not matter) constitutes one submittal. We also make a duplicate DVD and a copy of the Form VA for our records. The photos can be compressed from the original size to increase the number on the DVD. The day we mail it is the day the images are considered registered. The Library of Congress is very busy and it can take up to six months to receive the certificate but you will receive it.
The other way to register images is to upload them through the Library of Congress website. The fee for an electronic submittal is $35.00. Here is the link to do that: http://www.copyright.gov/forms/. We find it less work for us to compress the images and mail them.
We do not publish an image until it has been registered with the Library of Congress. We hope this information helps. If you have any questions on this, please feel free to contact us.
Kevan & Linda