Posted in Images of Our World
When a photographer clicks the shutter to make a picture, the image is already owned by the creator behind the camera. The copyright is yours and to lose it you need to sign it away. If a copyright owner wants to be sure to receive damages if the copyright is infringed, the copyright needs to be registered with the US copyright office. But registration is not required to own the copyright. That is automatic with the push of the shutter button.
There is the exception called “work for hire” which occurs when the photographer is in the employ of an entity such as a newspaper. Even then the photographer should make sure there is a mutual understanding that pictures would be available for his or her exhibits or books.
Over my career I have retained my copyrights even when working for corporations who often assumed that they owned the photograph. I gave the corporations the rights they needed for use of the pictures as negotiated but it was clear that I still owned the photos.
When a Time magazine correspondent took photographs to give to his editor, I asked him to sign a “delivery memo” which clearly stated that the pictures were on loaned for one-time use and that I held the copyright.
Because I retained my copyrights, I am able to use my photographs from my days of photojournalism in the 1970s-80s for my book, Turn the World Around: A Photojournalist Finds Paths to Peace Traveling in a War-torn Planet. I have placed some of the photographs in my book in this black and white gallery. My book is now available on Amazon.com.