Copyright Infringement of Political Photographs
If you photograph politicians, political events or political sites, and your images have been republished without permission, you may have a claim for damages under federal copyright law.
The moment you take a photograph of a politician, that photo is protected by federal copyright law. No one may use that image without your permission. As the copyright holder of that political image, you set the terms under which you grant that permission, including the terms of your compensation.
As a photographer of politicians and political events, there are many opportunities for capturing a memorable moment. Do you shoot photos of:
- Politicians delivering speeches?
- Politicians talking at political rallies?
- Politicians standing up at protests?
- Politicians sworn in at inaugurations?
- Politicians at town hall meetings?
- Local politicians such as mayors?
- National politicians such as senators, members of Congress, or the President?
- Politicians at fundraisers?
- Politicians with their families?
You have legal rights to these photographs. If a publisher uses them without your permission, it may be a copyright infringement.
Publishers Frequently Do Not Pay Photographers for Their Hard Work
In all industries and occupations, people receive compensation for their work. Do you know anyone who spends an entire day at an office and does not get paid? Do you have friends who work 60 hours a week for free? Of course not. When publishers do not compensate photographers for their photos, you are not receiving pay for the products of your hard work.
You work as hard as any employee, maybe harder. You might travel, put in long days, and work whenever it is necessary to locate the political subjects for your photos. Sometimes you can spend an entire day trying to capture one unique image that you know will be valuable. A good photo of a politician can be as valuable as that of a celebrity. Why should a publisher be able to take those photos, the ones you worked so hard to capture and use them without paying you?
Doing so is illegal under federal copyright laws. The law requires publishers to pay photographers for their photographs of politicians and political events. If a newspaper, magazine or website, is using your political photographs and not compensating you, it may be time to consult with a copyright lawyer at Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC.
You May Allow Publishers to License Your Photographs
You are in control of your photographs from the moment you take them. You have the power to decide who can use them and how. Holding onto this power is the purpose of licensing agreements. You and the publisher set the terms of the agreement, which can include things like:
- Your fee, if any, which may be a flat fee or a recurring fee.
- How many times the photo may be used.
- The way(s) in which the image may be used.
- How long the license will last.
Once you establish terms of your license and compensation, you have granted permission to the publisher to use the image or images as agreed upon. A publisher who violates the terms of the license, like one who uses the photos without permission, may be subject to a complaint about copyright infringement.
Your Copyrighted Photographs of Politicians Are Not for Public Use
It is not just publishers that may not use your political photographs without your permission. US copyright law also protects your photos from use by other corporate entities. Again, you have a copyright from the moment you take a photograph. You are not required to file documents or give notice to anyone. It simply exists.
No one may use your photographs without your permission. This rule applies to members of the general population. The pictures are yours. You may do what you want with them including:
- Posting on social media
- Licensing the rights to use it to a person or business for editorial use
- Allowing someone to use it for free for editorial use
If someone republishes your pictures without your permission, consider whether you want to pursue damages for a copyright violation.
Publishers Are Ignoring Your Copyright
As with any industry, there are publishers who play by the rules of fairness and law and those who do not. Some reputable publishers recognize that political photographers must be persistent, creative, and talented to get the pictures their audiences want to see. These publishers respect copyright laws and will license and pay for your images.
Other publishers take pictures and content and use them as their own without ever compensating photographers. It can be challenging to keep track of how and where your photos are used, and these publishers try and take advantage of that. Whether they use your photographs to reach a small audience, or make no profit, they are violating your rights.
A Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Protects Your Rights
What do you do when you find out a publisher is violating your rights and using your photographs without permission or in violation of your agreement? You have the right to bring a copyright violation lawsuit in federal court. If you want to hold publishers accountable and collect the payment you deserve for your hard work, consult with a copyright lawyer to discuss a lawsuit.
You may be entitled to recover your actual damages if you can show the court that the publisher violated your rights. If you file (or previously filed) a federal copyright registration you may be entitled to receive statutory damages which can be significantly higher than actual damages.
Before we file your claim, we need to ensure that you have a valid copyright registration filed. Our attorneys can help you with this process.
Copyright laws can be quite complex as can the lawsuits that arise under them. At Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC, our team of experienced copyright attorneys are fully prepared to work hard to help protect all of the legal rights you possess with regards to your photographs.
Our Copyright Lawyers Have Experience Protecting Photojournalists
If you are a photographer who takes photos of politicians, political figures, and political events on a national, global, or local scale, you should have copyright attorneys advising you. Publishers have lawyers who specialize in copyright law on-hand to defend them. You should have experienced lawyers advocating on your behalf to ensure that you get compensated for copyright violations.
At Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC, our copyright lawyers can help photojournalists through every step of the copyright process such as:
- filing a federal copyright registration
- negotiating licensing agreements
- enforcing licensing agreements
- filing copyright infringement lawsuits
- educating photographers on their rights
- representing independent photographers
- representing photo agencies
Our Copyright Lawyers Protect Photographers Across the Globe
Our copyright lawyers have experience handling cases around the world. We take on publishers large and small when they violate the rights of photographers. We are dedicated to ensuring that photographers receive fair compensation for their hard work and that publishers are held accountable for using photos without permission. If you are a photojournalist who shoots in the political arena and a publisher has violated your rights, call our copyright attorneys for help.
Contact Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC to Discuss Your Copyright Infringement Case
Has someone published your political photographs without permission? Has a publisher used your work without paying for it? Let our copyright lawyers evaluate your case and see if you have a claim for copyright infringement. Under federal law, you may be able to recover monetary damages.