How Do I Copyright My Pictures?
posted July 16, 2006
At the July (Saturday 7/15/06) HAL-PC Clear Lake Digital Photography SIG meeting the question of Copyrighting photographs came up.
Simply stated, a copyright attaches the moment the shutter is released. That is, you automatically have the legal copyright to pictures you take without doing anything.
US Copyright law does not require you add a copyright notice to your photograph for it to be protectable, but notice prevents an infringer from claiming he/she did not know the work was copyrighted. Notice consists of the symbol © (or the word “Copyright” or the abbreviation “Copr.”), the year of first publication and the owner’s name.
Though registration with the US Copyright Office isn’t required, it provides certain rights. For example, you must register a copyright before you can sue an infringer. So, if someone uses your photograph without your permission, before you can ask a court to stop him you must register the photograph. You can do this after your copyright is infringed, however it will delay you getting relief.
Registration costs about $45 and can include many photographs, not just one.
This article contains additional information on the subject http://photography.about.com/cs/businessmatters/ht/ht_Copyright.htm
Disclaimer: As with almost all law, and particularly Federal laws; copyright law can be quite complex with many exceptions to generalizations. This article is intended to be a quick thumbnail of a thumbnail. Entire books are written on this topic. If you have a serious need to copyright your photographs you will need to do some extensive reading. You can start here.