Quite frequently we are asked for information as to the necessary procedure in securing a copyright for a picture.

We would suggest that the photographer who contemplates protecting any of his photographs immediately write to the Register of Copyrights. Washington, D. C. and ask for blank forms which will be sent free of charge. It then becomes a simple matter to produce and sell copyrighted pictures on the day the negative is made, if need be.

All that is necessary is to publish a picture with proper notices of copyright affixed, and then to promptly deposit in the mail, addressed to the Register of Copyrights, Washington, D. C two copies of the photograph with the properly filled in application blank and enclose a fee of fifty cents.

Publishing a picture does not mean that the picture must necessarily be printed in a newspaper or book or magazine. If you have made a picture of some special news interest, for example, making prints from your negative and displaying them or offering them for sale is considered a publication.

But if your picture is so published without the copyright mark you have no protection. It can be used by newspapers or a print can be copied by another photographer and prints sold and you have no redress.The present law also simplifies the copyright notice so that it no longer need deface the surface of the print. A small letter C within a circle such as you will see used on the print by Boye on page 2 with the initials, monogram, mark or

How To Copyright A Photograph StudioLightMagazine1923 191


By O. H.Boye

Sun Francisco, Cal.

symbol of the owner of the copyright is all that need appear on the face of the print. On the back of the print or on the mount. however, the photographer's name and the date of copyright must appear.

The law provides a maximum punishment of $5.000.00 fine for infringement with a minimum of $2.50.00 except in the case of newspapers, in which case the maximum is $200.00 and the minimum $50.00. It is also possible where an infringement is made wilfully and for a profit, to send the infringer to jail.

Copyright applies to your photographs just as a patent applies to a mechanical device. It is the only means you have of protecting a fine piece of work against duplication or publication without consent and without credit. You have complete control of negatives and prints and exclusive right of reproduction, and that's what a publisher wants and is willing to pay for.

The following form may be used in granting permission to use a copyrighted picture.

Copyright License

For value received License is hereby granted to..........for the use of my copyrighted picture bearing designating number.....

Date of Copyright.......Subject

........to be used............


There is one phase of the subject which may need an ex planation and that is regarding the copyright of portraits. If you receive an order from one of your customers for a dozen portraits for which that customer pays you the customary price, you can not successfully copyright the picture. Your customer would in all probability object to the mark on the prints and they would not be protected without the mark. You could not prevent the customer from giving permission to anyone to publish what belonged to him and he could prevent you from giving such permission.

On the other hand, if you make a portrait without pay and give the subject pictures or a cash consideration for posing for you, you can claim the right of the picture and can protect your ownership by copyright. There are laws in several states, however, which prevent the use of a portrait for advertising purposes without the written consent of the subject or the parent or guardian of a minor.

Where pictures are made with any idea that they may be used for advertising purposes it is well to get this consent on a form something like the following for a minor:

Subject's Release Place......Date.....

I hereby affirm that I am the parent, guardian of ........and for value received I hereby consent that the pictures taken of him, her, by..........,proofs of which are hereto attached, or any reproduction of same, may be revised or sold by..........for the purpose of illustration, advertising or publication in any manner signed.

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By O. H.Boye San Francisco, Cal.

Another form may read:


For value received I hereby consent that the pictures taken of me by................" the balance of form being the same as above. Such a permit, along with a copyright, may be said to give the photographer all the protection he could possibly desire.

The term "westerner" is relative.