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PPA Today: Copyright: September 2017 Archives

Copyright: September 2017 Archives

By Sidra Safri

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Ever found an image and had no idea if it was still protected by copyright? Wondered if it was already considered to be a part of the public domain? What exactly is the public domain? 

Thankfully, here is a simple chart that can help you get started on your search. This chart breaks down what images or creations may still be protected under copyright, or what is already considered public domain. 

This chart is in no way all-inclusive, but it does give you a good idea of where to start. However, there are two key things to remember:

  1. If the original author or creator has passed away, you can contact next of kin. Copyright does transfer similar to property rights. 
  2. Public Domain is when the original author's copyright has expired, and they failed to renew their copyright, and so the copyrighted work was then made available to the public. Any creation categorized as public domain is free for the public to use without having to worry about copyright laws. 

When was the image published:

How long will the copyright last:

If the work was published before 1923

This image is considered to be a part of the public domain. Nothing new will be considered public domain until 2019.

1923 to 1977

1923-1963: Work is considered to be public domain if the copyright was not renewed during this interim. If the work was renewed, the copyright will last for 95 years from date of initial publication.


1964-1977: Unlike images produced between 1923 and 1963, the copyright does not have to be renewed and will automatically last for 95 years from the date of first publication.


In both cases, if the image was created but not published before 1978, the copyright will last for the author's lifetime plus another 70 years. If the creator died more than 70 years ago, then the copyright may last until December 31, 2047, if it was published before December 31, 2002.

1978 or later

The copyright will last for the life of the creator plus an additional 70 years.


If the work was for-hire, was created using a pseudonym, or was anonymous, the copyright will last for 95 years from the date it was first published or 120 years from when it was first created, whichever one is shorter.


*Note: this information not meant to be taken as legal advice. When in doubt or for legal advice, contact a local attorney.* 

It is also worth noting that, for works published before March 1, 1989, the use of © copyright notice is mandatory. For any work published after this date, it is recommended to include the copyright notice, but is not a requirement. 

To stay informed on copyright matters, boomark!

By Sidra Safri

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You are casually scrolling through social media or your favorite magazine, and a certain picture catches your eye. Upon further inspection, you realize that published image is yours! You quickly get excited and begin looking for your name in the photo credits, and it dawns on you... the image was used without your permission! Now what??

As frustrating as this can be, you are not alone. There are a few steps you can take before you run to contact an attorney, because let's be real: attorneys are expensive! 

The first thing you want to do it use PPA's Copyright Infringement Tool. This quick questionnaire will help you assess your copyright abuse situation and tell you what your best course of action is, depending on each particular case. 

Second, as annoyed as you might be, contact the infringing party. Talk to them, ask how they got your image, and let them know you are the proper copyright owner of the image in question. Sometimes, the image is used carelessly; other times, someone dropped the ball somewhere. 

Often, your connecting with them will rectify the situation and will get the image removed. But there are situations where this won't work. 

If, after talking to the infringer and explaining that your work was used without your permission, the person(s) still do not cooperate, the next thing to do is to send a certified copyright infringement letter. In this letter, you will cite Federal copyright law and why the use of the image without your permission is a violation of your copyright. You can also include additional demands, such as payment or simply the requirement to stop using the image. Sending this certified letter also puts the infringing party on notice, which is a requirement before any legal proceedings can begin. 

If your image was infringed on a digital format (social media, website, etc.), you should also send a Digital Millennium Copyright Act Letter (DMCA Letter). This cease and desist DMCA letter once again puts the infringer on notice. Attempt to address the letter to someone who is in charge of publishing or upper management such as a director, manger, etc., as they are familiar with the legal implications of this letter. 

If, after sending a letter and putting the infringing party on notice, they still refuse to comply, at this point it may be appropriate to have a local attorney inform the infringing party that they are in violation of Copyright law. 

Most of the time, the combination of these steps will get your image removed and can even provide you with compensation. 

Keep in mind that with the current makeup of copyright law, it may not be worth pursuing a claim in Federal Court, since you may spend more than you will get back. That is why it is so important, now more than ever, to push Congress for a Copyright Small Claims process! This would allow photographers like you to resolve infringement cases without having to spend thousands of dollars in court. 

To learn more, visit And if you too want the copyright system to change, show your support at Good luck, and thank you in advance!

By Chris Homer

Having a photograph used without your permission is a stressful situation for any
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 photographer. If you're not sure where to turn to deal with copyright infringement, fear not, PPA is here to help!

PPA members can access the online copyright infringement assistance tool for advice on how to deal with any situation where your copyright has been violated. By answering a few easy questions, the tool will provide you with detailed options on ways infringement situations are commonly addressed*. It all can be done in just a few minutes! 

So, if you're dealing with copyright infringement, start the process by using the online copyright infringement assistance tool. If you're not a member, join today to access the tool and many more copyright resources. And if you'd like to join PPA's efforts in campaigning for a copyright system that better protects photographers, consider joining PPA in the fight for artists rights! PPA works hard with our Congressmen to roll out updates to the Copyright Law. Sign up to show your support! 

*Please be aware that material provided by PPA's Copyright Tool is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. For legal advice you should always contact a local attorney licensed to practice in your state.

ch_headshot_100x100.jpgAbout the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages.


About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Copyright category from September 2017.

Copyright: August 2017 is the previous archive.

Copyright: October 2017 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

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