It’s the end of the year, and that means it’s time to copyright your photography. Every time I do this, I forget how it is done, and I have to look it up. Here is what I did this year.
PhotoShelter has a good guide on how to use the US Copyright Office’s online “ECO” system: http://blog.photoshelter.com/2009/05/electronic-copyright-registrat/
Sure, it’s old, but I still works. However, it is unclear about two issues: how do you handle a large group of images at once, and what can you submit in a single copyright submission.
As far as I can tell, you can upload a year’s worth of your unpublished images in one go, and you can upload a year’s worth of published images, but you can’t mix published and unpublished in a submission.
And, while I submitted only once this year, those of you who are a busier will want to submit more often! That’s when the record keeping — a collection in Lightroom, for example, and metadata taggin — becomes important so you don’t double-submit, or fail to submit, photos.
I gathered all my significant unpublished images, added my name to the metadata if it was missing, and exported them from Lightroom to fit 600×600 pixels, JPG 65. I compressed them into a “zip” file (on the Mac, that’s in the Finder menu File:Compress). Your file must be under 500MB, and mine was. Those small JPG’s are about 55 kb each.
My zip file, containing the small JPG files, is named “2016 Copyrighted Unpublished.zip”. I will hold onto it — it’s less than 500MB — just in case I need it some day.
After entering all the registration info and paying my $55, I was able to upload the zip file of photos to the copyright office.
I did the same with my published photos, having gathered them together into one group. I chose the date of the first publication of the first image in the set as the publication date. I think I can do this because of Peter Krogh’s notes and other commentators.
Then, I made a collection in Lightroom called “Copyrighted 2016” and added them to that collection. And, I marked their metadata as “Copyrighted.” That way, I know I’ve submitted them, and I don’t try to do it a second time (which apparently can be bad if a lawyer finds out).
Your yearly submission is going to cost at least $110, because each submission (of a group of pictures) costs $55.
PhotoShelter & Pixsy
Finally, I uploaded all my copyrighted images to a special gallery on PhotoShelter (in a small size). This way, I can use Pixsy (http://www.pixsy.com/) to automatically scour the internet to discover violations of my registered photos!