Almost every photographer has found one of their images reproduced online without their permission. The first question you might ask yourself is "how much money can I get for this infringement?" However, copyright law can be extremely difficult to understand and there are many common or case law rulings that factor in on how an image can be used fairly or commercially. In this fascinating video, the guys at RGG EDU sit down with Joe Naylor with Image Rights and fine art photographer Peter Coulson to discuss how photographers can protect their art.
This round table discussion is incredibly fascinating, and many parts of it might make your blood boil. Did you know that without registering your images with the U.S. Copyright Office, you are effectively throwing away your ability to be awarded money for statutory damages? Even though you technically own the copyright on any image you create the second you push the shutter, it is much more difficult to win a settlement if your images have not been registered within three months from the time they were first published. In a court of law it is nearly impossible to prove how much monetary damage you have lost by someone stealing your images, but if your images are registered with the copyright office, you can claim statutory damage which has a set price per violation. Furthermore, registered images also open the door for you to recoup your legal fees which might not otherwise be negotiable.
One of the most talked about copyright infringements in recent times involves appropriation artist Richard Prince who has coined the term "rephotography." Late last year, Prince made headlines by screen capturing images off Instagram and selling them for over 3 million dollars in a N.Y.C. photo gallery. Most of the images stolen were from Suicide Girls but another unlucky photographer affected by Prince's copyright experiment was Peter Coulson. As Coulson discusses in the video above, his image was sold for $90,000 which makes it a lot easier to quantify the damages caused by Prince's infringement. Unfortunately Coulson's images were not registered within the U.S. Copyright Office and it looks like his battle in court might not be worth the agony of fighting someone as educated as Prince. At the time of writing this, Prince has not been found liable in a court of law for his latest Instragram project.
This interview hosted by Rob Grimm and Gary Martin is pretty interesting, and Naylor has some interesting perspectives on the do's and don'ts as related to photographer's copyright protection. After listening to the full discussion, what are your thoughts on protecting your art and securing your infringement claims?