Changes to Copyright Registration for Photographers and Why Consumers Should Care

Boo!!! 😡 A sucky, money-grubbing, stealth price increase by the U.S. Copyright Office looms on the horizon. Batch uploads for copyright registration for previously published images will now be limited to a paltry 750 images per submission, effective February 20th, 2018. Previously, the uploads were unlimited in quantity for the $55 registration fee. Because federal copyright law protects work previously published as far back as the prior three months from date of submission, a photographer could effectively protect their intellectual property with four $55 uploads at a total business expense of $220 a year. Photographers that have been procrastinating on protecting a large backlog of work, may want to pay for an upload now, before the new limit takes effect.

For the sparse number full time professional photographers left in this world, all this means is a price increase for consumers. Either the photographer must spend the time to cull down images for a submission, which is a CODB that must be passed onto the consumer indirectly, or an uploaded batch of 7,500 images will now cost the photographer $550, instead of $55.

In the digital era, and with Uncle Bob's to be found behind every pop up flash, professionals and semi-pros have a difficult enough time educating prospective clients why quality work costs good money. I didn’t invest $12,000+ on gear to include redundant backups to photograph my family’s Saturday picnic at the park. I don’t skip that picnic with my family to photograph a clients wedding as a charity service.  Neither do I count it a hobby to spend even more hours in the digital darkroom perfecting a clients precious family memories at the expense of my own. I do contribute money to charity services and donate my time to good causes, but you wanting to enjoy the fruit of many years my study and practice is not necessarily a good cause just because you happen to want it. Now we have yet another structural challenge in our industry amidst and ever expanding spectrum of talents and price levels—mostly downward.

Visit the US Copyright Office website if you'd like to leave a comment to the unelected bureaucrats. If the USCO gets overwhelmed with comments filled of 'tears of rage' this may possibly be reevaluated, but I suspect it will require Congressional inquiry before it really comes under the spotlight.

By the way: you don't have to submit RAW files for a registration upload, 800x600px JPGs are just fine. There, I just saved you several hours of time monitoring your uploads. You're welcome!