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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.

By Sidra Safri

Recently, PPA posted about software by Google that enhances low-resolution photos into high-quality images. Now, Google researchers have taken it one step further and have taught software to remove any sort of watermark from images! This makes it effectively harder to protect your copyright. 

As reported by Startlr, according to Google Researchers Tali Dekel and Michael Rubinstein:

"As often happens with vulnerabilities found in operating systems, applications, or protocols, we want to unleash this vulnerability and offer solutions to help the communities of stock images and photos adapt and better protect their author's content and creations." 

Dekel and Rubinstein believe additional elements of randomness should be used in future watermarks to protect the copyrighted works of creators. 

Currently there is no indication of this software being available to the public, but it's now more important than ever to make sure you not only have a watermark on your images, but also a copyright notice on both your images and in your metadata

Stay informed on how you can protect yourself from copyright infringement at

By Sidra Safri

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For some time now, you have heard PPA talk about how important it is to protect your copyright. Some of you have taken action by joining our Artist Rights Movement and have even contacted Congress when the time came! For that, we THANK YOU!

Besides joining the Artist Rights Movement, there is one more thing you can do to make sure your copyright is protected... and that is to stay informed and knowledgeable. The more you know about copyright laws and regulations, the more you can use these laws and regulations to protect your copyright. 

PPA now has a fun quiz you can take to see how much you really know about copyright rules! Head on over to to see how much you know about the copyright laws that effect you every day! 

iStock_000054785490_Large.jpgHave you seen this? PPA's CEO David Trust has published an article on and it's all about the fight for copyright reform. Be sure to head over to Medium, give the article a read and SHARE it with your social networks. It's only through the support of the entire artistic community and beyond that we will move Congress to take action on this very important issue.

by Sidra Safri

Photographers and creative artists are always looking for ways to make sure their images are protected by their copyright. Some methods include adding watermarks and company logos on their images. Granted, none of these stop an infringer, but they do put the infringer on notice that they may be in violation of Copyright Law. 

Another popular way to ensure your image has your copyright is to embed your copyright information into your metadata. Metadata is a collection of information that stays with your image to help identify the image, its owner, and when it was created. 

In your metadata, you want to encode your copyright notice. Below are a few examples of how your copyright notice should be worded:

  • © year of publication, name of photographer/studio

  • © all rights reserved, year of publication, (name of studio/ photographer) 

Metadata is not visual at the surface level when you are looking at the image, but can be seen when using any editing software and looking at the embedded code. Since your metadata is not seen when looking at the image, it is always good to use it in combination with watermarks or logo placement. 

And, as always, remember-- you always own your copyright unless you have agreed to give it away. Just because you create the images for someone does not mean they own the copyright. 

Stay up to date on everything copyright-related and get your FREE copyright kit at

by Sidra Safri 

For a long time now you have been hearing PPA push for Copyright Modernization and Small Claims copyright protections for photographers. The good news is that a lot of progress has been made in both areas, but still have a ways to go to ensure their success as legislation. A few weeks ago in our blog you saw a flyer that explained why Small Claims makes sense. 

This week we wanted to take the opportunity and show you why it is necessary to push for Modernization of the Copyright Office.  When we say modernization, PPA means the ability to upgrade the registration system, make the registration process smoother, and also allow for a stronger infrastructure that can support a large increase in copyright registration. Take a look below for some interesting information about the current registration system. Be sure to share this graphic with your friends and stay tuned to so everyone can support copyright modernization! 

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by Mayo Lawal

You've probably heard about PPA's campaign and trips to Capitol Hill to advocate for the reform of the current U.S. Copyright Law. From time to time, we also come up with really creative ways that you can support the cause, and even encourage others to join in. 

One great way to be a part of this initiative is to share this flyer (below), which explains the copyright issues, and how they affect professional photographers all over the country. This may help your clients and friends understand the problem better and become more motivated to demand change. 


To learn more about what PPA is doing to change copyright law by pushing for a Copyright Small Claims system, you can visit PPA's advocacy page

And if you'd like to see progress made with copyright protection, please join the Grassroots Action Team, the group of photographers who are joining in solidarity for copyright change, to show your support and know how and when to make your voice heard in Congress! Help make a difference and add your name today:!

by Sidra Safri


PPA's first two meetings today have us off to a great start! 

We started the morning with Representative Doug Collins (R-GA). We were happy to hear that they are hoping for introduction of a small-claims bill very soon and they have been keeping in close touch with key players.

Representative Collins went on say that even though there is so much going on right now, he is devoted to moving small claims forward and ensuring small creators are protected. He also acknowledged that small claims and copyright modernization go hand-in-hand and we must continue to push both. We ended the meeting taking the opportunity to thank his office for everything he has done.

After Rep. Collins we went to meet with representative Hakeem Jefferies' office (D-NY). Jefferies' office has been in close contact with various members of the visual-arts community and is making sure the small-claims bill is what creators want. Once they are able to introduce a bill, Jefferies and Rep. Marino want to work closely with Joe Keeley (House Judiciary Committee's chief counsel of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property) and make sure small claims continues to be something both parties can agree upon. 

Another key aspect discussed in this meeting was making sure that however the small-claims process goes forward, in no way should it become cumbersome to the people it's meant to help. We ended this meeting thank Jefferies' office for bringing small claims to the forefront and helping making sure creators' rights are on everyone's minds. 

Right now we are heading to lunch and will take the opportunity it to regroup for our next meetings. After lunch we will be meeting with Joe Keeley from Chairman Goodlatte's office and representative Jim Jordan. 


PPA is back in D.C. for day two of our trip, meeting with representatives to advocate for copyright modernization and small-claims protection for photographers. Yesterday ended with our meeting with Representative Lieu (D-CA). We visited Representative Lieu's office earlier this year and he showed great interest in small claims since many of his constituents are affected by copyright Infringement. We wanted to follow up with him and thank him for his support and push for small claims. Since Representative Lieu works closely with Representative Chu's office, he fully understands why it's important for small claims and modernization to go hand in hand. This meeting was a great way to end the day, especially since we know we have such fantastic support! 

Today we are changing things up and are going to be joined by other visual-artists organizations that are also pushing for small claims! These organizations include GAG, ASMP, APA, NANPA, and NPPA. With our partner organizations we will be meeting with Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Representative Doug Collins (R-GA), Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH). All four offices have heavily engaged in work on small claims and we wanted to take the time to propose additional provisions and see what we can do to make a small-claims bill as successful as possible while protecting creative artists. 

Stay tuned for more updates!


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This page is a archive of recent entries in the Copyright category.

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