Monday, September 24, 2007

A Walk Through The Copyright Office – Introduction

There are a number of people who complain about the copyright office’s turnaround times. The return time can vary from a quick turnaround of 1-2 months, to 9 months. It’s necessary to remember that the copyright office is processing thousands of requests at any given time, but more importantly, your registration date is effective when their office receives your completed application, fee, and deposit, not when you get the final form back.

(Continued after the Jump)

What follows is a pictoral display of every step of the registration process, including one or two you don’t want to know about personally (because you made a mistake), but are non-the-less integral to the system.

The Copyright Office (or, CO) is undergoing sweeping changes in terms of how they serve the public. Modernization of systems for electronic receipt of submissions to the imaging of forms, checks, and correspondence, means that the CO is always looking at how they can better serve the public. These images may be a bit dated as they were made at a point where modernization was taking place, however, they are, in my opinion, a revealing insight into all that goes into your registration, and why it was reasonable that the registration fee increased from $30 to $45 awhile back.

When the CO completes the process, we look forward to bringing you another look - behind the scenes - at the Copyright Office, of how their new, more automated world, brings it, and thus, your registrations, into the 21st century.

A Walk Through The Copyright Office:
Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Michael Czeiszperger said...

Why all this detailed information on the copyright office? What does this have to do with photography?

Kalmár Nagy András said...

If you don't copyright your images, then you are less likely to get proper compensation if they are misused. The copyright office is where you do this. said...

More specifically: if you don't register copyright to your photos, you can only sue for actual damages. Which means, the dollar amount generated from the illegal sales of your images. In most cases it would cost you far more to bring the suit than you would recover.

When you register your work within 60 days of publishing it, you can sue for punitive damages and legal expenses in addition to actual damages.

You can put however many digital photos will fit on a CD or DVD and register them all for the $45 fee. It's a bargain.

All of this info is online at

Xavier said...

Anyone knows:
- how many photographs do they process on an average day?
- how many total photographs do they have in total?
- how do they go about checking whether a submitted photograph has not been previously copyrighted?

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