Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2004/05/20

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Subject: [Leica] Copyright Registration (was: fraud on the LUG)
From: timatherton at (Tim Atherton)
Date: Thu May 20 19:15:53 2004

> Tim,
> I appreciate the correction.  It is my understanding that even
> unregistered works are eligible for economic restitution.  If the
> economic damages are enough then you can afford a lawyer: if the
> potential damages are large enough then the server operator doesn't want
> to be a part of the game.
> Don


The main point about copyright registration is that it opens up basically a
whole new level of protection and restitution in cases of infringement -
punitive damages, lawyers fees etc. The upside is immense. There is no

Infringement of an unregistered image may a) attract fairly minimal
restitution in Court (maybe what you would have charged for usage + a bit
more if you are lucky, and no lawyers fees paid) and b) you will have to
jump through many many hoops just to get that.

First thing an IP attorney will ask you is "is the image registered" then
"why not!". After that, you will register the image. If it's 90 days dafter
"publication" it will only effect any future infringements. If it's within
90days, it's retroactive.

It is simple for any working photographer (set up a workflow) and costs very
little (compared to the "insurance" you are getting) to bulk register
unpublished images and protect them. (and if you aren't a professional
photographer, but post images on the web or whatever - you can still
register them - it's for any creator)

best into for photographers is here at Editorial Photographers (along with
info on how to actually register works):

"Benefits to registration in brief:
In order for you to get the full protection of copyright law, you must
register your images with the US Copyright Office at the Library of
Congress. This is not as hard as you might think. If you have a copyright
infringement case and your images are registered, you are entitled to sue
for attorneys fees as well as punitive damages, not simply compensation for
the usage. While it is easier to register unpublished images in bulk, you
can register published images, but they must be sent in separately from the
published images. Additionally published works must be registered within 90
days to receive complete protection from copyright registration (ie. for any
infringements). If published images are registered after 90 days from the
date of first publication, you gain the benefits of registration only for
infringements that occur after the date of registration.

If someone infringes your images and they are not registered, the infringer
has broken the law. Most infringers willingly take the risk, because they
know most photographer's do not register their material. They also know that
they will pay little more when caught then they would have to if they
licensed the image from you. The logical conclusion is why not take the
risk. Without registration, you as the image maker bear the burden of
proving what the image was worth and the burden of your own legal costs.
There is no mechanism for triple fees or punitive damages without

Once an image has been registered the law is set up to compensate the
copyright holder with his or her legal fees and punitive damages of up to
$150,000.00 per image infringed. One attorney I met at a panel discuss on
copyright calls this the biggest legal "hammer" he knows of when negotiating
settlement or prosecuting a copyright in infringement. The difference being
registered and not is legally "stunning". Having been personally infringed
in the past I know all to well the difference myself...." more at

In reply to: Message from dorysrus at (Don Dory) ([Leica] fraud on the LUG)