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The Second Most Important Thing You Can Do As A Photographer

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2022 | Photography Law |

We all have busy lives.  As a professional photographer, your schedule is probably full. You likely have countless clients you need to photograph.  You also likely have many places, to which, you need to travel.  You have to maintain all of your equipment.  You need to keep in touch with the latest programs.  You need to process, edit, and distribute your work–not to mention collecting payments for all of your effort. At times you may feel overwhelmed.

Nevertheless, without wanting to place yet another burden on you, as you may know my previous blogpost described how the most important thing a photographer can do is register their work.  I would like to follow up by saying:


You may be thinking, “A registration is a registration.  What difference does it make when I register my work?  As long as it gets registered…”  However, such a thought would be wrong.  The legal rights you have are directly tied to how quickly you register your photographs.

In order to obtain your “full” legal rights you must register your work before anyone else infringes upon your work (or in the alternative within three months after the first publication of your work).  If you fail to timely register, you’ll miss out on your “full” legal rights.

So what exactly do you miss out on?

Well, at a minimum, you will miss out on Statutory Damages and Attorney Fees under the Copyright Act of 1976.

Statutory damages, pursuant to 17 U.S. Code §504(c), state that you are entitled to between $750.00 to $30,000.00 per work infringed!  Furthermore, that amount may be increased to $150,000.00 per work if the infringement was committed “willfully”.

Therefore, imagine, by simply not timely registering your photograph you could be losing up to $150,000.00 in Statutory Damages (and if multiple “works” were stolen that number would only multiply!)

In addition, failing to register also prevents you from obtaining Attorney Fees under the Copyright Act of 1976.  By obtaining Attorney Fees you can make the other side pay for your lawsuit.  Therefore, you could be losing out on not just thousands of dollars’ worth of Statutory Damages, but on thousands of dollars’ worth of Attorney Fees.

All of this simply because “you never got around” to registering your photograph.  All of this because registering it “tomorrow” became “next week”, and “next week” became “next month”, etc.

Therefore, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to quickly register your work!  It is an important tool in your arsenal to protect your photography, your art, and your work.  Registering will give you piece of mind knowing that your art, your photography, and your work, is protected by your “full” legal rights!

However, if somehow you failed to register your work, fear not as you still have other legal options which will be covered in other blogposts.

These blogposts shall not be constituted as legal advice and are for informational purposes only.  Each and every case is different and requires an attorney to examine the specific case in question to arrive at an adequate legal conclusion.  In addition, these blogposts are not updated, or edited, after the date of their initial post, and as such, the information contained within them may be outdated.  Consult with your own personal attorney for more information on the subject matters.