Monday, September 29, 2008

Register Your Copyrights & Prove You Care For Your Work!

While I suspect that key committee members in the US House of Representatives will be firm on retaining the protections for artists in their version of the Orphan Works bill, preferring the language of their bill to the competing Senate version, the Orphan Works amendment will almost certainly become law. The only thing that can possibly derail it is a prolonged floor fight over the Wall Street bailout and a desire to get back to their districts quickly to campaign for re-election. So... what do we do about it?

The most obvious thing to do is to prevent our works from becoming orphaned in the first place. I've proposed to the ASMP leadership that our highest priority in the near term should be the redrafting of the standard Terms & Conditions that govern our transactions: our estimates, invoices, delivery memos and licenses, and to lean heavily on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in creating a contractual penalty that makes it a no-brainer for our clients to preserve metadata in our digital files and to include a copyright notice that identifies the photographer/illustrator as the copyright holder to the image for all uses.

It's also important, in fact it's more important, for every photographer to to make copyright registration a normal part of your daily workflow. We now we have the option of online registration that makes it faster and easier to accomplish (and you get your documentation quicker, too). We have to prove we care for our work!


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