The US Copyright Office is seeking comments from visual artists on ways that the Copyright Office and law can help them protect their works from online infringement. Right now, online infringement of photographs and other visual works is rampant, and attempts to watermark or create other barriers to infringement do not work well because of the ease of meta-data scrubbing. Further, photographers tend not to register all of their works with the Copyright Office. This prevents them from seeking statutory damages when pursuing an infringement case and often makes this claim cost prohibitive. The Copyright Office would like comments on the creation of a small claims type procedure in which copyright owners who have not registered their works can still bring an infringement claim that would not be cost prohibitive.
They are also interested in hearing from those that use this photography for artistic or creative purposes, and what the Copyright Office and photographers can do to make it easier for others to use these works. For years the Copyright Office has been trying to get legislation passed to deal with “orphan works”. These are works that are clearly still protected by copyright, but the owner of that copyright cannot be located. The Copyright Office hopes to find a middle ground between the photographers who want to protect and receive attribution for their works, and those that wish to use them.
Click here to read the notice and request for comment from the Copyright Office.