Details Matter

Just a quick note to ask you to look at your copyright notices on your website. Do you have one on each page? You need to.

Just having a separate page about your copyrights will not legally help you if your work gets infringed–that is, it won’t help you make additional claims under the DMCA as the courts are saying that CMI (copyright management information) needs to be on the same page as the work, at the very least. Actually, it’s better to have the notice tucked right up next to the image. Each image.

While a watermark of a proper copyright notice on the image provides even more protection, at least having a proper copyright notice next to your work, online, can be a great way to prove infringement, willfulness, and you can also make a claim for a violation of the DMCA if your photo gets used without it. DMCA violations don’t require timely registration, by the way, so this is like insurance for those of you who still aren’t actually registering your work as often as you should.

But here is the devil in the details: make sure your copyright notice matches your copyright registration certificate if you have registered the work (and you really, really should). If you register your work as Betty Martin, do not post your notice as © 2010 Betty Martin Photography. Or, if your work is not registered, no fibbing on the notice: it needs to be proper and that means the © + the year of first publication + the name of the author (for example: © 2012 Leslie Burns). A smart defendant will use any mistake in the notice or difference from the certificate to kick out the DMCA claim.

Worst of all, do not think that using your website url as notice will cut it–the courts have been unsure on just what CMI is and especially if your URL is something odd, like mine, it may not be considered CMI (the law states that CMI contains info that identifies the author).

So, check your site and make sure you are protecting yourself. You owe it to your work and your business.

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