Copyright is a right, granted to you by law, to control the copying, reproduction, distribution, derivative use, and public display of your photographs, and to sue for infringement of your work. This right begins at the moment you create the latent image, whether on film or digital media. Copyright ownership is automatic when you make an image. The one exception to this is when your work is considered work for hire.
Copyright registration is filing notice of your copyright to images and copies of them with the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, D.C. Although registration is not required to own the copyright, there is one instance in which you must have a registration and another when there is a definite advantage to registration. When legal action is necessary to remedy a copyright infringement, the image must be registered before the legal action can be started.
This registration can be made after the infringement occurs, but it is better to be registered before an infringement. If you register before the infringement or within three months after the date of first publication, even if after infringement, you will be able to sue for statutory damages, which are up to $150,000 per infringement, and your legal fees. The registration process is governed by government regulations. The regulations require that you identify whether the images being registered are published or unpublished. The U.S. Copyright Office is located at101 Independence Avenue, Washington, DC 20559-6000. Telephone: (202) 707-3000. A 24-hour “hotline” for obtaining registration forms is (202) 707-9100.
ASMP Copyright Tutorial Website:
Editorial Photographers Copyright Information: