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Old 25th of January 2010 (Mon)   #1
Aaron Peabody
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Default Proper format for copyright statement

Just a quick question. I've heard two different things concerning what is the "proper" way to write a copyright statement for your images. One position states that it doesn't really matter how you phrase it, even to the point where it is nothing more than your name. The other position is that there is a right way to write your statement: Copyright (c) [year] [your name], and that any deviation from this form makes your copyright less powerful. Can anyone shed any light on this for me? Thanks.
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Old 25th of January 2010 (Mon)   #2
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

Yep, you can copyright your images all you want, people will steal them anyway. However, here is what mine says:

Quote:
2006-2010 7M Photography. Images may not be copied, printed or otherwise disseminated without express written permission of 7M Photography or its agents.
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Old 25th of January 2010 (Mon)   #3
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

I have mine as Copyright 2010 Cross PhotoGraphics, All Rights Reserved. To be honest with you I don't now the specifics. I just did some research and it seemed like this was the most common wording.
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Old 25th of January 2010 (Mon)   #4
John the Geek
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

At least in the US, copyright doesn't require a statement at all. Let alone worry about the format of the statement. The act of creating the image makes you the copyright owner and protects you. However, if you have to actually defend it in court though, then no text with a year stamped on it digitally is going to do you any good. For the best protection you should register the copyright. Otherwise, supplying the original digital files in court should be good enough to at least defend the copyright.

Most copyright statements serve as more of a signature giving credit to the photographer than an enforcement of copyright. But, if you do ugly it up enough - hey, people might lose interest in stealing it altogether. =)
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Old 26th of January 2010 (Tue)   #5
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

Quote:
Originally Posted by John the Geek View Post
At least in the US, copyright doesn't require a statement at all. Let alone worry about the format of the statement. The act of creating the image makes you the copyright owner and protects you. However, if you have to actually defend it in court though, then no text with a year stamped on it digitally is going to do you any good. For the best protection you should register the copyright. Otherwise, supplying the original digital files in court should be good enough to at least defend the copyright.
If it's not registered, it will not go to court. The court will not bother to hear the complaint.
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Old 26th of January 2010 (Tue)   #6
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

Copyright notices have been optional for the last 21 years. However, there is an "innocent infringer" defense, which will prevent you from collecting actual or statutory damages for any infringing act committed before the infringer received actual notice. It used to be that you gave the work up to the public domain, never to get it back. Now you can get it back once you put people on notice that they are infringing.

Proper copyright marking should list the publication year, not the year it was created (a common mistake for "do-it-yourself" publishers).
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Old 26th of January 2010 (Tue)   #7
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

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Originally Posted by RDKirk View Post
If it's not registered, it will not go to court. The court will not bother to hear the complaint.
True, but you can still register it after the fact. You will be limited in the amount of damages you can collect, if any, but it's still enough to stop unlawful use of your photo.
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Old 26th of January 2010 (Tue)   #8
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

then the next question for us that don't know who to register, is where can we register our copyrights??
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Old 26th of January 2010 (Tue)   #9
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

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Originally Posted by Nox Noctis View Post
then the next question for us that don't know who to register, is where can we register our copyrights??

www.copyright.gov

You can register online for $35--which covers as many small unpublished jpegs as you can physically stay awake to transmit in a session. You just have to categorize them as a logical "collection" such as "My photographs of 2009."

However, if the images have been published (offered to the public for sale or distribution, which would include an unsecured website but not a secured website), you can't register those images in the same "collection" as unpublished images, and you can only register up to 750 published images in a collection.
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Old 26th of January 2010 (Tue)   #10
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

Quote:
Originally Posted by RDKirk View Post
www.copyright.gov

You can register online for $35--which covers as many small unpublished jpegs as you can physically stay awake to transmit in a session. You just have to categorize them as a logical "collection" such as "My photographs of 2009."

However, if the images have been published (offered to the public for sale or distribution, which would include an unsecured website but not a secured website), you can't register those images in the same "collection" as unpublished images, and you can only register up to 750 published images in a collection.
I think I read that the cost is going to go up a little bit to register images. Something like $5-10 more. I can't seem to find where I read that, though. Does anyone in the know have more info on that?
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Old 26th of January 2010 (Tue)   #11
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

Copyright notices on a creative work are like a padlock on a garden shed: it serves to keep honest people honest.

However, according to the U.S. government, the proper form of a copyright notice is: Copyright 2010 by John Q. Smith, all rights reserved. I'll explain the why's of this form in detail.

This is a sentence. The word "copyright" should always be capitalized and the word "reserved" should always be followed by a period.

The circle-C "" symbol should always follow the word "copyright," never precede it or stand in lieu of it. On Windows keyboards, you can get the "" symbol by holding down the "Alt" key and typing "0169" on the number pad.

The date should be the year of release, not the year of creation. This confuses people. The year of release is the year in which any copy of any portion of the work leaves your possession. If you share it, post it, sell it, publish it, or otherwise send it out there, you are releasing it.

For words with multiple releases, the date should cover the period from the first release through the latest release, e.g., 1994–2010. If all editions are in the same decade, conventional date shortening may be used, e.g,. 2004–10. Note that in formal writing (which a copyright notice, being legalese, is) the dash between the years is an en-dash "–", not a hyphen "-". (If you don't know the difference, you don't know how to do formal writing.) You can get an en-dash from your Windows keyboard by holding down the "Alt" key and typing "0150" on the number pad.

The date may be in Roman numerals, although this is not encouraged. You'll see Roman numerals used a lot in films, especially older ones. "2010" in Roman numerals is "MMX."

The word "by" should not be replaced by a comma (a common error), as it is a preposition indicating who holds the copyright, i.e., that the name following it is the owner of the copyright and not some random person/entity.

The name should be the legal name of the person or entity holding the copyright. It should never be a shortened version of the name, such as a nickname ("Bill" instead of "William"). If of a person, it should include that person's middle initial, to further define the owner.

The name should never be the name of an unincorporated business. Unincorporated businesses are not legal entities per se, and cannot legally own things. It is the owners of such businesses who can own things. Do not use "JQS Photography" as the name of the copyright holder unless "JQS Photography" is incorporated, in which case it's legal name would be "JQS Photography, Inc." or whatever variant it was incorporated under.

Notice that "JQS Photography, Inc." ends with a period. This period is a part of the abbreviation "Inc." and this a part of the name. It does not replace the comma following the name: Copyright 2010 by JQS Photography, Inc., all rights reserved.

The words "all rights reserved" are a subordinate clause within a sentence. It should always be set off from the body of the sentence by a comma (the comma following the name) and should not be capitalized. This is the clause that states that the copyright holder is reserving all rights of reproduction to him/her/itself. Those three words have a specific meaning under the law. Don't mess around with them, you'll only mess yourself up.

And now you'll say, "Big deal, so what if my notice is different." Fine! Have it your way. If you have it your way and wind up in a court case, maybe you'll prevail, and maybe you won't. Just be aware that there are plenty of cases where fortunes have been lost because of a misplaced comma. Federal court is NOT the internet. Bad grammar DOES matter.
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Old 26th of January 2010 (Tue)   #12
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

Quote:
Originally Posted by mckinleypics View Post
However, there is an "innocent infringer" defense, which will prevent you from collecting actual or statutory damages for any infringing act committed before the infringer received actual notice.
You have got to be kidding me on this one.
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Old 26th of January 2010 (Tue)   #13
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

thanks for the info RDKrik
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Old 26th of January 2010 (Tue)   #14
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

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Originally Posted by Bosscat View Post
You have got to be kidding me on this one.
Nope, not kidding. But if you have it marked, you don't have to worry about it. The innocent infringer defense goes away.
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Old 26th of January 2010 (Tue)   #15
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Default Re: Proper format for copyright statement

20Droger, do you have the specific location of this information? Thanks for posting this. I just want to cite specific US Gov location. Thanks, again.
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