Happy 2014! I know that one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get better at protecting your images against copyright infringement, and the best way to do that in the U.S. is to submit your images to the United States Copyright office. In this tutorial, I will show you how to make it easy do to using Lightroom.
The Copyright Office makes it easy to submit images for copyright registration through the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO). You can create an account, pay a fee, then upload your images. There are different rules for published versus unpublished works, and for registering collections instead of individual images. Fortunately, the Copyright Office created a tutorial with specific steps covering their side of the process than you can read here.
At a high level, the registration process involves:
- Generate your registration images
- ZIP your images together (optional)
- Following the eCO registration process and paying the $35 fee
- Uploading your images
- Receiving registration confirmation from the Copyright Office
Generating Registration Images
To get started, we need to generate the image files we want to register. JPEG is probably the most widely used file format that the Copyright Office will accept (no proprietary raw, no DNG). The images must also be large enough and of sufficient quality to be recognizable and distinct, so some images with fine detail may need to be larger or higher quality JPEG than others.
Create A Collection
I will typically create a collection of all the images that I want to register. In my case, I usually register images monthly or yearly. In my workflow, I have my images broken up by year and month, and I can select the images by selecting the corresponding folders. Depending on how you store your images, you can also simply use the Library module filters and grab your images by date, too, as well as any other criteria you use to mark your keepers. For me, it’s images that are flagged and that have at least a one star rating.
Once the images are selected, I’ll add them to a collection to make the rest of the process easier.
Once I have the images I want to register in a collection, it’s time to generate the JPEG files that I will upload to the eCO. This is simple enough by selecting all the images and navigating to File > Export.
I have an export preset specifically created for uploading to the eCO. Again, depending on the nature of the images, I might need to select and export things using slight variations of my preset if I need more detail, but for most of what I do, this preset does the job.
My preset includes:
File Naming – I use the capture data + my last name + the original file name as the output file name. That way, it has my name for identification plus the original file name if I need to locate it in my catalog.
File Settings – I found a 75 JPEG to be a good balance of size and quality.
Image Sizing – For most of my work, a 640 long edge image is large enough to capture the detail in my images with a resolution of 72 (web).
Metadata – I leave all of the metadata in the image. It doesn’t add much to the overall file size, and it will retain all of the copyright and EXIF metadata to make it easier to tie back to me in the event of an infringement.
You can download my preset here: [tweegi-button name=”eCO Copyright Preset”]
I’ll export all the images to a single new folder. If I have too many images or want to break up the files in to multiple projects, I will create multiple folders, which will make the next step easier.
Creating ZIP Files
Instead of uploading images individually, the Copyright Office allows you to bundle your images in compressed ZIP files for uploading. That makes it easier for selecting your images to upload and to fit inside the eCO 60-minute upload window.
On both Windows and the Mac, you can select the folder that contains your images and create a ZIP file. On Windows, it’s usually right-clicking on a folder then selecting Send To > Compressed File. On the Mac, right-click on a folder and click Compress “Folder Name”. The result will be a ZIP file for your folder. Repeat the process if you have multiple folders.
Registration And Payment
Now it’s time to open up your browser and visit the Electronic Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/eco/. Once there, refer to the eCO tutorial for instructions on filling out the copyright registration information and submitting your payment.
After you have completed the registration information and submitted your payment, it’s time to upload your images. The tutorial and website refer to it as “Uploading a deposit”. With your ZIP files already created, you simply need to select each of them when prompted and then click Submit Files to Copyright Office.
Your images will be uploaded and you will receive a confirmation message.
You can revisit the eCO website to view the status of your registration. Once your registration has been processed, you should also receive a confirmation letter in the mail from the Copyright Office.
Registering your images with the copyright office makes it easier to resolve infringements against your work. That’s why I do it, and why I recommend every photographer should do it, as well. With Lightroom’s help, it’s easy to integrate the process of generating images for registration as a regular piece of your workflow.
For more information on why you should register with the Copyright Office, read the information on the ASMP’s website.