Monday, February 12, 2018

Photographers Face Copyright Rule Changes

Several years ago, the U.S. Copyright Office increased its fee for registration of creative works from $35 to $55 for those applicants registering more than a single work in any form of media.  Since photographers rarely copyright only one image at a time, the new fee represented an increase of a whopping 57% for each submission made.  Even so, the $55 fee still allowed photographers to submit as many photos as they could manage during a single session.  In other words, so long as all the photos had a single author, no limit was set on the number of unpublished images submitted in the time allotted.  That situation has, unfortunately, now changed.  According to a recent announcement on the U.S. Copyright website, effective February 20, 2018, a final rule regarding Group Registration of Photos goes into effect that limits the number of unpublished images submitted in any session to 750, the same that had previously applied to registration of published images.  While for many photographers that number might be adequate, for those with thousands of exposures to register it may significantly raise the cost of doing business.

Photographers do benefit from two other changes in the rules  As stated below: 1. the term "author" has been expanded to include those working for hire under the photographer making the submission; and 2. each image submitted is now considered a separate work rather than a part of a compilation and is accordingly protected as such.
"The final rule revises the eligibility requirements for GRPPH and GRUPH by providing that all the photographs must be created  by the same ‘‘author’’ (a term that includes an employer or other person for whom a work is made for hire), and clarifying that they do not need to be created by the same photographer or published within the same country. It also confirms that a group registration issued under GRPHH or GRUPH covers each photograph in the group, each photograph is registered as a separate work, and the group as a whole is not considered a compilation or a collective work."
Photographers who routinely shoot only a modest number of exposures and register less than 750 images at any given time will probably not be greatly affected under the changed rules.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and have written the above article for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Those with questions regarding copyright law should contact qualified legal counsel.

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