Electronic Copyright Registration for Photographers

For everyone who has been following my blog and Facebook fan page over the past two months, you’ll know that the marketing cooperative and international hotel chain Best Western International, Inc. stole an image I took of downtown Dallas on Jan. 16th 2009 and placed it on one of their chain’s websites without my permission. The image is titled ‘North Market Between Ross and Elm’ and depicts Dallas, Texas’ West End Station with Bank of America Plaza center frame, and Renaissance Tower left of BOA Plaza. Read the original blog post, here: http://stephenmaskerblog.com/tag/best-western-market-center/

The image is copyright – as all images are the moment they are created by the photographer – and is further listed as copyrighted on my Flickr account where the image was lifted from. This situation has been of interest to me since I’ve never had to be involved in it before, and is an interesting experience to follow. When I started photographing downtown Dallas and recognizable North Texas landmarks in March of this year, I didn’t think that I’d have to be as expeditious about copywriting my photography, but this Best Western ordeal has proven me wrong. Today, I registered all of my Dallas photography with the U.S. Copyright Office for a small fee of $35. I highly recommend that if you have images online that are worth protecting you do the same.

If you’re interested in registering your images with the U.S. Copyright Office, check out this excellent article on Photoshelter’s Blog. They provide you with photos and step-by-step instructions for navigating eCO’s (the Electronic Copyright Office’s) confusing system: http://blog.photoshelter.com/2009/05/electronic-copyright-registrat/

eHow also provides simple, easy to read instructions and briefly explains the benefits of registering your images: http://www.ehow.com/how_8242661_copyright-internet-photos.html

Be sure to check out the eCO FAQ. The best way I can explain eCO is the system/platform/software/etc. that you’ll use to submit your claim/images to the U.S. Copyright Office. The FAQ can be found, here: http://www.copyright.gov/eco/faq.html#eCO_2.3

To create an account and start submitting, go here: https://eco.copyright.gov/eService_enu/start.swe?SWECmd=Login&SWECM=S&SWEHo=eco.copyright.gov

At the writing of this blog, the current processing time for online submissions (e-Filing) is: 2.5 months. (Source: http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-what.html#certificate)

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