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Seb L's picture

Should I copyright Before or After Lightroom?

This may be a simple one.

So I have recently copyrighted my first batch in the US copyright.gov
I have some questions related to the process:

1. Should I copyright my pictures just out of the camera or after I Take them to lightroom?

2. If I change the name or I edit the pictures, let's say fix verticals (I photograph architecture) will this be a new picture?

3. By posting my pics on Instagram, let's say I upload to Instagram 3 of a batch of 500 pics, should I consider these 3 as published and copyright them separately?

I appreciate the help and answer any of my questions.


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Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Hey Seb,

Totally up to you on whether or not you register you images before or after you process your files in Lightroom. As the registered Copyright holder, you are entitled to derivatives.

Secondly, it's kind of a gray area and highly debated depending on the number of followers you have on your social media. However, a good rule of thumb is to consider images you post to instagram as "published" works, therefore would require a separate registration.

It's best to register your images before you publish them. By doing so, you'll have more rights in a court of law. Also, if you have published images online, make sure to register them as published images, and make sure to register the copyright within a 90 day window.

Also, I'd recommend checking out a book by Ed Greenberg and Jack Reznicki called "The Copyright Zone: A Legal Guide for Photographers and Artists in the Digital Age." https://www.amazon.com/Copyright-Zone-Photographers-Artists-Digital/dp/1...

It's a great read and think you'll find it very helpful

Seb L's picture

Hi Brian, I am very surprised and happy you replied to me, Big fan here!

I asked the same question on Reddit and someone told me I should only copyright the final piece, because "Would I copyright a novel when is half-finished?" So I am happy to hear that I can copyright all the bunch of pics I have without editing all of them, I can't wait to share them.

I will check out the book, I just saw it has great reviews. Probably worth the read since copyrighting can be a bit confusing for me, especially for me living in China.

Stay Healthy and take care!


Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Hi Seb,

I'm passionate about the rights of artist's and when I saw your post in my notifications, I had to respond. I truly appreciate the kind words as well!

The Copyright Zone, in my opinion, is the absolute best book written on the subject of copyright. It’s easy to understand, very informative and entertaining at the same time. Ed and Jack also put a lot of real world examples in it as well. If you’re unable to get a printed copy, they do sell a digital copy. I know Google Books sells the digital copy.

I should also state that this book focuses on United States Copyright law. Being that you are living in China, the laws will likely be different in that country. That being said, there are many countries that have treaties with the United States and value the copyright law of other countries. Being that you live in China, it would be worth your while to do some research and also learn how to register the copyright to your work in China.

US Copyright law has changed over the years. Everything from the fees you pay, to the amount of images you can publish at one time. Currently the fee is $55 and you are limited to 750 images per registration. In addition, you have to provide a list that corresponds to the images you are registering. Copyright.gov has all of the information you will need.

Here are some other helpful links:

The Copyright Zone Q&A (2018)

The Copyright Zone Q&A (2015)

All the best, Cheers!


Seb L's picture

Hi Brian,

I recently Copyrighted my first batch. I did it in the US because it has reciprocity with a lot of countries. China included so that's a pro, the con is that the website is in the '90s and is a real pain, they added helpful videos to guide you in every step of the way, and after you do it once, then everything seems pretty simple and straight forward.

Thanks for the videos, I will go through both of them. And I hope they are also useful to other members fo the community that have similar questions.

Seb L's picture

Just in case someone wants to watch this:

How to publish a group of UNPUBLISHED pictures:

How to publish a group of PUBLISHED pictures:

darin gabbert's picture

Seb and Brian,

Thank you so much for this thread. I just finished the CRZG's "Once Again" video, and it was excellent. I am going to purchase their book (I have already bookmarked their blog page). The new information that I did not realize, and do now, was the value of registering your work; and the benefits that come from doing so.

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Awesome to hear darin gabbert! I can't recommend their book The Copyright Zone enough. I think you'll dig it