“The Congress shall have Power…To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Tımes to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8
An image that speaks to the viewer, and tells a story without words is the ultimate goal for any photographer. And because of that, it is not surprising that there is an untold number of photographer’s images that are coveted and borrowed without the photographer’s knowledge or consent. As a result, there is an increasing need to protect the rights of creators and their work.
In an increasingly digital world, it is becoming harder and harder to keep track of your imagery. It is not uncommon to find images being used that were not licensed. I wanted to learn more about how photographers could protect themselves and what recourse might be available for those that have instances they’d like remedied and spoke with Michael Masterson of Permission Machine. Permission Machine works to resolve infringement issues and are able to work with both registered and unregistered images. However, the below information will show, registering images will provide for protection and fewer headaches when seeking to recover fees.
When I spoke with Michael, he shared with me the services they provide which include image scans using proprietary reverse search engineering, filtering of images, reporting, in-house legal services, and finding new revenue streams. I liked that there is no upfront cost to the photographer. When a photographer uses Permission Machine’s services, and a case is pursued and settled, the “proceeds are divided equally among the client, the lawyer and Permission Machine with 33.3% going to each.” Michael explained that they routinely get four and five-figure settlements on registered images. “Money that’s just left on the table if not pursued vigorously.”
Copyright protects your creation so that you get credit for your hard work and creativity. There are several sources to consider when obtaining copyright information.
- Copyright law is covered under Article 1 of the Constitution. The US Copyright Office offers guidance specific to photographs, including instructional videos.
- The Copyright Alliance is a Washington, D.C. based copyright advocacy group who provides information on issues and policy, details on copyright law, resources, news, and education.
Consider two particular chapters within the Copyright Act, Chapter 5 and Chapter 12.
- If the infringement occurs before an image is registered, you can’t get statutory damages. Under Chapter 5, you need to register before the infringement.
- If the infringer knowingly removed the copyright or someone else did, then it falls under Chapter 12 whether it’s registered or not.
And if you want to read more about what we have written about copyright, link here.
We recognize photographers work tirelessly to bring their vision and creations to life. Those creations should be protected. Please visit the above sources for Copyright information and check out Permission Machine for timing, a trial, and pricing.
A special thanks to Chris Crisman for providing his copyrighted header image.