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                         ASMP Copyright Guide
      Provided to CuD by: Don Smith <70373.1735@COMPUSERVE.COM>
This document is Copyright ASMP (American Society of Magazine
online members of ASMP, as a service and a guide to creators, buyers
and users of intellectual property.
Reproduction and distribution of this document for non-commercial use
s encouraged. Reproduction must remain intact, as a complete whole,
and including this notice.
The original distribution (July, 1992) was via CompuServe Information
Service (CIS). To access ASMP members within CompuServe, GO
Further information may be obtained from:
Dale Geffs ASMP Sysop          Paul Bowling ASMP Sysop
ASMP/American Society of Magazine Photographers
New York, New York 10016
This document was scanned from the original printed document and
converted to ASCII text. The copyright symbol (the letter C in a
circle) does not convert in ASCII.
n a circle. The use of (C) with parenthesis in copyrighted material
may be improper and invalid to mark copyrighted material.
            COPYRIGHT GUIDE FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS by Richard Weisgrau &
         Michael Remer, Esq.
Copyrights can be valuable intangible assets. The Copyright Act of
mages, except when those images were made as an employee, or when the
and signed agreement.
this mini-guide on the subject. This pamphlet is not a legal guide to
the subject.  Instead it is intended to give you a fundamental
understanding of the subject of copyright and how it applies in your
Copyright is a right, granted to you by law, to control the copying,
your work.
This right begins at the moment you fix your photographic expression
n a tangible form, that is, when you create the latent image on film.
Copyright ownership, bestowed automatically when you make an image,
Although most images are copyrightable, some are not. To be
copyrightable, images must be original. Originality is essential to
copyright. If you exactly copy a photograph, the copy can not be
copyrighted, since it has no originality. (In fact if the first
Making a substantially similar copy of someone else's copyrighted
mage without authorization constitutes copyright infringement. It is
usually necessary to show that the alleged infringer had access to the
original work-but the images may be so closely identical that no
explanation other than copying is possible.
expression of those ideas, themes and concepts in some tangible form,
like a photograph, can be copyrighted. You might have an idea for a
concept cannot be copyrighted.
Having an idea or concept does not entitle one to a share of the
copyright of the photograph. The copyright belongs to the one who
makes the tangible expression of the concept or idea.
Copyrights can be registered with the Copyright Office in Washington,
D.C. Although registration is not required to own the copyright, there
s one instance in which you must have a registration and another when
there is a definite advantage to registration.
When legal action is necessary to remedy a copyright infringement, the
mage must be registered before the legal action can be started. This
unless you register before the infringement (or within three months
after the first publication even if after infringement, you will not
be able to sue for statutory damages, which are up to $100,000 per
nfringement plus your legal fees. When statutory damages are
unavailable to the copyright owner a claim can still be made for
actual damages, that is, the amount of money lost as a result of the
nfringement plus the amount of profits realized by the infringer. But
actual damages can be difficult and expensive to prove, and legal fees
can be an additional burden.
A photographer should always seek legal advice from a qualified
attorney before threatening a copyright infringement action.
ASMP recommends that all photographs carry a copyright notice, even
though it is no longer required by law. The lack of notice could
nfringement claim.
Copyright notice is a way of saying: This is my work - if you want to
use it, come to me. This stance reinforces the asset value to your
Copyright notice consists of the letter c in a circle (C) followed by
the date of first publication and the photographer's name. For
example, (C)1991 (Creator's Name). The word "Copyright" or "Copr." can
be substituted for the (C). Either form is recognized, but use of the
(C) symbol can give additional international protection. The words
"All Rights Reserved" can also give further international protection.
A word of caution is called for on the subject of notice. Some persons
knowledge this form of notice has never been rejected by a court, but
there is no guarantee that a court would uphold a (c) as proper
notice. The law calls for a (C) or the word "Copyright" or "Copr."
As the copyright owner, you have to license someone to use your image
before they can legally do so. A license is simply a permission to use
the photograph with certain limitations.
A non-exclusive license does not have to be granted in
licenses in written form. This avoids subsequent disagreements about
the terms of the license. In the absence of a written license, the
usage arises differing recollections of rights granted can only be
action, a last resort, is certainly costly and to be avoided if
best done before use begins, not after the fact. Negotiate the
license, then confirm the usage rights in a written copyright license.
Under the copyright law, an "exclusive" grant of rights means a
transfer of all or part of copyright. Avoid these words, unless you
ntend to transfer copyright ownership to the client.
limiting the rights as you would limit any other grant of rights. That
s, you should properly grant the exclusive rights for a certain time
advertising, books, etc. By applying limitations to the exclusive
license you are narrowing the transfer of copyright. By setting a time
More information on copyright licensing, and samples of copyright
licenses can be found in the ASMP FORMS booklet, and in the ASMP
Assignment Photography monograph.
The rights which you license should be based upon the outcome of the
negotiations which you have conducted with your client. Generally, you
You can transfer copyright ownership to another party. Copyright, like
any asset, can be bought and sold. The only requirement in the law is
that a transfer of copyright ownership be in writing and signed by the
owner. Photographers should exercise care in signing client purchase orders.
ASMP has seen many examples of purchase orders which have a copyright transfer
ncluded in the terms and conditions. Signing such a purchase order would
There is no law that says you have to transfer copyright to a client. Remember,
even though the client might be the originator of the concept or idea this does
not entitle them to the copyright of the photograph which you, the
Work for hire is another way the client can become the copyright
owner. The difference between work for hire and a copyright transfer
s rather simple. In the case of a copyright transfer you own the
copyright until you transfer it.  In a work for hire situation you
never own the copyright. It is owned by the client from the moment the
tool of the client.
Work for hire exist automatically in the case of an employee taking
agreements are required.
An independent contractor ("freelancer") can do a work for hire only
n certain circumstances. First, the work must be commissioned-that is
a work for hire only if the photograph comes within one of the nine
a work for hire:
Contribution to a collective work
Contribution to a motion picture or audio-visual work
Translation Supplementary work
Compilation Instructional text
Answer material for a test
The category most frequently involving photographers is a contribution
to a collective work such as a magazine or other periodical.
Although many see work for hire and copyright transfer as the same
thing, they are not.
Under the law, if you transfer the copyright you can get it back after
thirty five years. This "recapture" provision of the law was designed
to allow photographers the eventual control over their body of work.
Also, when negotiating a copyright transfer you have the ownership and
can bargain for the price of the copyright.
a fee. That fee should reflect the present and the future value of the
copyright. If you signed a work for hire and later want the copyright
to the work, the only way you can get it is to negotiate with the
copyright owner to transfer it to you.
Finally, a work for hire will apply to all photographs taken on the
assignment, not just to those used by the client. A transfer of
copyright can be customized and apply to all the photographs or some
The copyright law allows someone to copy your work without penalty in
certain cases. This is called "fair use". In order to qualify for
"fair use" the photograph would usually have to be copied for
educational, classroom, news reporting or other educational or public
nterest purposes. Fair use is always subject to interpretation. There
s no simple rule to apply to determine when an unauthorized use is
"fair use".
Each case has specific facts that must be examined before such a
consult with a knowledgeable copyright attorney before jumping to
conclusions about infringement.
until the invoice is paid in full. It should be understood that under
this provision nonpayment may be both a breach of the client's
contractual obligation and infringement of the copyright. This can
create a legal question about the best way to enforce your rights - a
question best answered by competent legal counsel.
"Buyout" and "all rights" are confusing terms and are thought by some
to mean a transfer of copyright However, these terms have inconsistent
trade definitions, depending upon personal understanding, and
consequently are not reliable in licensing terminology.
We urge you not to use such terms In licensing clients the rights to
your photographs. It is better to clearly state whether or not the
copyright is being transferred.
An all rights agreement without a transfer of copyright is a
copyright remains with you. This gives the client the widest range of
copyright ownership.
"Audio visual works" are works that consist of a series of related
mages which are intrinsically intended to be shown by the use of
machines or devices such as projectors, viewers, or electronic
equipment, together with accompanying sounds, if any, regardless of
the nature of the material objects, such as films or tapes, in which
the works are embodied.
A "collective work" is a work, such as a periodical issue, anthology,
or encyclopedia, in which a number of contributions, constituting
collective whole. A contribution to a collective work can itself be
A "compilation" is a work formed by the collection and assembling of
arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes
an original work of authorship.  The term "compilation " includes
collective works.
A "derivative work" is a work based upon one or more preexisting
fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art
underlying work may be recast, transformed or adapted. A work
consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other
modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of
authorship, is a "derivative work."
A "joint work" is a work prepared by two or more authors with the
ntention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or
nterdependent parts of a unitary whole. Each joint copyright owner
can grant non-exclusive licenses to third parties subject to a duty to
account to the other joint owners for their share and profits.
"Motion pictures" are audiovisual works consisting of a series of
of motion, together with ac-companying sounds, if any.
A "transfer of copyright ownership" is an assignment, mortgage,
exclusive license, or any other conveyance, alienation or
comprised in a copyright, whether or not it is limited in time or
Registration is handled through the Register of Copyrights, Library of
Congress, Washington, DC 20559. Telephone: (202)479-0700. A 24-hour
"hotline" for obtaining registration forms is (202)7079100.
except for bulk registration and some contributions to periodicals.
The procedure for filing is quite simple. The form is
copies of the photograph (except for an unpublished registration, when
only one is required) along with a $20 filing fee. For registration
Form VA is the basic form for registering all works in the visual
arts. In addition to photographs as such, it should also be used for
contributions to periodicals.  When these items consist primarily of
text, they should be registered in class TX.
a magazine, you can still register the copyright in class VA as a
contribution to a collective work, thus securing the advantages of
above. This procedure is safer than relying upon the registration of
the collective work itself.
There are three ways to display a copyright notice:
(C) 1991, (Creator's Name)
Copyright 1991, (Creator's Name)
Copr. 1991, (Creator's Name)