Creating high quality content and making a living from it is living on the edge difficult in the age of copy and paste. The minute you create an image, a song, a logo or whatever else it is you do, it IS copyrighted. But who cares these days? Time to fight back and get your copyright registered!
Copyright Laws are… not Helping You!
Most countries in the civilized world have realized that creative work is real work that should be attributed to the creator and compensated. Powerful legislation has been established by most governments, even in seemingly lawless places such as China.
But unless your name is Lady Gaga or Apple, it’s difficult to proof it’s your work, which makes it much harder to go after people and companies that violate your copyright by stealing your work, without permission and without compensation.
Avoid to Become Orphan Work
Another threat for monetizing creative work is pending (or in some cases established) new legislation that makes images, video, text or audio automatically a freebie for all if the copyright owner can’t be identified. In other words, saying “Oh, I didn’t know” when you catch someone with his hands in the cookie jar won’t get him more than a slap on the wrist. This encourages stealing of content.
Fight Back and Register your Work
Luckily, the internet is not just for copyrights violators, you have a number of ways to get your work identified and registered. Here is a list of websites and services that can help:
The PLUS Coalition is a non-profit organization with broad industry support (Adobe, Getty Images, IPTC, Corbis and most leading photographer associations) that mainly focuses on image rights. It established a very important metadata standard (an XMP schema, to be precise) that allows to manifest all rights and licensing details of a photograph within the file itself (embedded metadata). The website offers a convenient tool to create custom-tailored license conditions, based on a commonly accepted set of legal terms.
PLUS recently extend its services with a free Registry for photographers and other content owners that issues a unique ID for the person / organization. The new service is officially still in Beta, but works well. At a later stage, it will be possible to register images and licenses along with a promising reverse image recognition feature.
The most bullet-proof way of registering your copyright is … you guessed it: the U.S. Copyright office. Due to its complex processes, it’s not the best choice for common commercial work such as photographs, literature and music. Dealing with the government isn’t exactly fast and easy. Besides, every registration requires a fee – no freebies here. Money-saving hint: Safe Creative includes a small number of U.S. Copyright Office registrations in their subscription fee.
If you want your work not only properly registered, but are interested to hunt plagiarists down, then Safe Creative might be the right choice for you. These folks really offer a massive one-stop-shop, from registering your work in various convenient ways, to custom licensing services, to tools for finding copycats and even all the way to sending Cease and Desist letters to their physical mailboxes. It doesn’t break the bank either, you can start with a limited free account or go with a Premium or Pro account (sets you back 24 /64 Euros per year). Safe Creative has its headquarters in Spain and an office in San Mateo, CA. No words about how long they’ve been around on their site.
As its name already suggests, Numly provides you with unique electronic serial numbers to protect your precious work items. All you need to do is to upload them and Numly will ID them, with serial number, time stamp and a digital fingerprint. It’s a commercial service, 100 Numly numbers run you $100 per year. They offer an API that allows to check serials and also assign new ones from a third party application (WordPress plug-in and Mac OSX Widget are available for free). Numly is based in Phoenix, AZ and has been around since 2006.
Based in the UK (with pricing showing only in British Pounds) and operating since 2004, Duly Registered offers copyright registrations for musicians, writers, photographers, filmmakers, bloggers, designers and many more categories. Registrations are billed for 10 years in one chunk, 200 photos run currently at 300 Pounds, which translates to about $500 of New World money.