In Part 1 of this series, we talked about Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp v Wall-Street.Com, and how the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision stating that the registration from the United States Copyright Office must be issued before a creator can file a copyright infringement suit.
So what does this mean for photographers and creative artists? As many of you know, you own the copyright from the moment you capture the image or the moment you create a piece of work. When someone infringes on your work, you still have the ability to cite the United States Copyright law and seek a remedy.
However, in order for you to file a copyright infringement case in United States Federal Courts, you must register this creation with the United States Copyright Office and WAIT until you receive your certificate of registration in hand!
The problem being, currently the Copyright Office has a 6-8 month delay when it comes to issuing registration certificates. That means if you find out today someone is using your image without your permission and they refuse to take it down, you could potentially have to wait 6-8 months before you file your suit. This gives the infringer extra time and leeway to take advantage of the creator (you) and puts you at a disadvantage.
The Court also stated that the Copyright Office does have an expedited track for an additional fee of $800 for situations where there is a case pending in Court. The problem with this is that most small creators do not register their images until there is a reason to do so since it’s already time consuming and costly, with very little return. Asking a photographer or small creator to pay an additional $800 is even more burdensome.
Decisions such as the one made in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. V Wall-Street.Com show why it is so important to modernize the Copyright Office, create a Small Claims Tribunal, and finally allow all creators to enjoy their Copyright Protections rooted in the United States Constitution. Please join PPA's efforts in campaigning for a copyright system that better protects photographers, consider joining PPA in the fight for artists' rights! Sign up to show your support!