In the past few weeks I’ve had several photographer friends who have had their photos stolen and in one case one was put on a stock photography site. Neither of these photographers had registered their photos so the only recourse they really have is to request the photo to be taken down, but they will unlikely ever recover any money.

I’ve been meaning to register my photos with the US Copyright Office for the past year, but I kept putting it off. These incidents made me decide it was time to do it. However I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed. I had heard some good things about this book and decided to give it a try.

Photographer’s Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age (Lark Photography Book) by Edward Greenberg and Jack Reznicki

It’s an easy and quick read that describes copyright law and why you should register your photos. But the most valuable part of the book was a step-by-step walk through of submitting your photos to the copyright web site. The web site is not the most intutive or user friendly site and without the walk-through I would have been lost at several points during the submission process. It took about 20 minutes the first time through, but now that the initial information has been filled out it should only take a couple of minutes for the next submission. 

The most time consuming part was compiling all my images to upload. I only registered images that had been published, which includes anything put in public view on my web site, Flickr, message boards, etc. That ended up being just over a thousand images going back to 2001. 

My plan going forward is to register my photos every quarter. This should be a good trade-off between protection and finding the time to do it.

I highly recommend the book and recommend you register your photos.