Copyright Infringement of a Photograph
Photograph Copyright Infringements Happen Every Day.
We Can Help.
Copyright laws protect photographers and their work from unauthorized use. As a copyright holder, it is up to you to grant others a license to use your photographs.
But what happens when you license your work to newspaper A, and television station B copies your image and uses it in their news story without a license to use that work? What happens when it is taken and published on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or other social media sites?
Answer: a Copyright Violation
Copyright Violations Cost Hard Working Photographers Money Every Day
When you have your work taken by a publisher, who then uses it without permission and compensation, how do you feel? Where does that leave you?
Richard Liebowitz, Esq., the founder of our firm is both an attorney and avid photographer. He has published his own photographic work. With years in the community as a photographer, he learned first-hand how photographers suffer at the hands of some media companies.
We are changing this, working hard to protect the rights of the photographer, with the goal of getting them paid for their work.
How Copyright Works With Photographs
When you take a picture, you are immediately the “author” of that work, and you own the copyright to your photograph, whether it is published or not. The exception would be if it were a “work made for hire” in which case the copyright would be with the company that hired you to produce that photograph.
Published Work May Not Be Copied By Third Parties Without Your Permission
One misconception is that if you post a photograph, you give up your copyright interests. For example, many people falsely believe that if you publish your work on Facebook or Twitter, for example, that the image is there for all the world to take. That is simply not the case.
What about an image on a major news site? Can someone copy the image and write their own article? No! Your image belongs to you. Even if you licensed the image to company “A” that does not mean that the rest of the world can copy and use that image.
Enforcing Your Rights in Your Photograph Copyright
If your rights have been violated, the question turns to how you wish to proceed. There are many routes you can take, including but not limited to:
- contacting the publisher and asking them to take down the image,
- making a demand for payment for the unauthorized use of your copyrighted work,
- instituting a lawsuit against the infringing party
Registering Your Copyright: Statutory Damages
If you have registered your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, you may have the right to pursue statutory damages – a predefined range of financial damages. Without this protection, photographers are often forced to pursue “actual damages” which can be difficult to quantify.
Under the law, specifically 17 U.S. Code § 504(c), the copyright owner may elect to recover statutory damages instead of actual damages and profits. The amount of recovery shall be “in a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the court considers just.” If the court finds the copyright violation was willful, then “the court in its discretion may increase the award of statutory damages to a sum of not more than $150,000.”
Statutory vs. Actual Damages
In some cases, actual damages may be more substantial. For example, imagine a scenario where a company sells posters with your photograph and earns $1 million. Here, the damages are clear and are easier to quantify.
In many cases, the statutory damages provide a strong remedy for the photographer. This method gives a range of damages, as well as defined legal exposure to the other party.
Call Our Photograph Copyright Infringement Lawyers Today
Before taking action, it is important that you understand your rights. Call our copyright attorneys today for a no-risk consultation. Let us determine if we are able to help you, and if we are, the recommended course of action. Do not let the publishers intimidate you into a low-ball offer for their violation (if they respond at all). Contact our copyright law firm to discuss the best option for your claim.