When an interesting photograph is taken and the sound of money is in the air, people leap to answer the question of who owns the picture.
While the idea of somebody “owning” an intangible asset that can be reproduced infinitely might be mind-boggling, it actually has a firm grounding in international law.
Copyright laws have been on the books in the United States since 1790 and are even enshrined in the Constitution. But what does this mean? How can intellectual property laws help you? What happens if you forgo this privilege?
I’ll answer all those questions and more in this brief article!
The Importance of an Attorney
First and foremost, hire an attorney. Attorneys bring specialized skills and discipline to the table that you most likely otherwise would never have access to. By hiring an attorney, you can significantly reduce the time, effort, and cost of applying for a copyright.
J.D. Houvener, a San Francisco patent attorney, has gone so far as to say, “What takes me a few minutes and a phone call can sometimes take pro se applicants days or even weeks, and even then I occasionally find out they did it wrong.”
Securing a copyright is not a cheap process and it certainly isn’t an easy one. When you admit your limits and hire an attorney, you reduce the likelihood of incorrectly filing papers that result in your copyright claim’s dismissal by the United States Copyright Office.
Costs and Benefits of Registering Your IP
While the benefits of owning your intangible assets are sometimes blindingly obvious, the costs can be far less noticeable. Nonetheless, it is important to have a firm understanding of both sides of the coin.
The key benefit of owning the copyright on a photograph is the government-backed monopoly that comes with it.
By successfully registering your intellectual property with the United States Copyright Office, you gain the authority to bring the force of the government to bear on any of your competitors who would seek to use your pictures for any purpose, even if it is of higher quality, done more efficiently, or produced at a fraction of the cost.
This artificial scarcity imposed on the photographs enables you to raise prices and increase profits well beyond what would ordinarily be possible.
The primary cost of copyrighting your photographs is most apparent when considering the short-term losses incurred with every $50-or-so fee that must be paid for each photograph. This is to say that a portfolio of 100 photos could run you $5,000 if you don’t know the legal loopholes that enable you to do this for much cheaper.
Of course, these costs can easily be remunerated in the long term. By using the force of the government to execute your will as the monopoly owner of the photograph, the arbitrarily high prices that you set can easily result in positive returns on investment.
How it Works
Copyrighted photographs are protected in a number of ways. One of the most effective methods of protecting copyrighted photographs is via the inclusion of blockchain technology into the code that is used to render the photograph.
Modern photographs are formed and stored entirely in code. This means that, by adding blockchain functions to the code, copyright attorneys are capable of monitoring the transfer of copyrighted photographs.
Blockchain technology is used to link together the various IP addresses that the photograph visits, allowing the owner of the copyright to track all downloads and file transfers and subsequently file cease and desist letters or full-blown lawsuits.
How To Get Copyright Your Work
The process of filing for a copyright is similar to the process of filing a provisional patent application, although the copyright process is much simpler and takes far less time.
While patents can take years to process, copyrights can sometimes be processed in a matter of only a couple months.
The first step in the copyright application process is to go to the website for the US Copyright Office and fill out Form CO.
Once Form CO has been completely filled out, send it in a combined folder along with the completed version of your photograph and the filing fees, to the United States Copyright Office.
Once this is done, you’ll have to wait two to four months for the bureaucrats to review the forms and ensure your work qualifies for copyright privileges. Be cautioned, though: bureaucrats are not typically known for their attention to detail or amazing work speeds.
At the end of the day, photography is about the art. Don’t be afraid to produce high-quality works of art just because you’re worried about the costs of procuring your copyright privileges or the difficulties associated with filing your copyright applications.
By hiring a lawyer, you can enjoy much more of the benefits while experience much less of the costs. This makes the registration and application process just that much easier and less stressful.
Now that you know how to copyright your photographs, you can enjoy a standard of living far and beyond what would be possible on the free market. Of course, this all depends on the objective quality of your work, so keep your head up and your lense polished!
Written For WorldPhotographersClub.com By