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Business and Legal Forms for Photographers Fourth Edition Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1581156690
ISBN-10: 1581156693
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tad Crawford grew up in the artists' colony of Woodstock, New York. He is the author of many nonfiction books and his writing has appeared in venues such as Art in America, the Café Irreal, Confrontation, Communication Arts, Family Circle, Glamour, Guernica, the Nation, and Writer's Digest. The founder and publisher of Allworth Press, he lives in New York City.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

An excerpt from the newly released Fourth Edition of Business and Legal Forms for Photographers by Tad Crawford (Allworth Press)

Registering Your Copyright

The Copyright Office has built an excellent online presence at www.copyright.gov. Their Web site has extensive information about copyright, including numerous publications, forms, the federal copyright law, copyright regulations, legislative proposals, reports, and more. The photographer should be able to find the answers to most questions about copyright, including how register copyrights.
Registration has always required a correctly filled in application form, the specified fee, and deposit materials that show the content of what is being copyrighted. The registration process has been streamlined and the Copyright Office now prefers to have registration completed electronically on their Web site by what is called the eCO Online System (eCO abbreviates electronic Copyright Office). To encourage photographers and other authors to do this, the fee for online registration is now less than the fee for registration using paper forms. The use of paper forms is expensive for the Copyright Office. To discourage their use for registration, the Copyright Office does not make the paper application forms available off their Web site anymore. To obtain the paper forms a special request must be made to the Copyright Office (the request can be on the Web site).
Among the advantages of eCO online registration are a lower basic registration fee (currently $35), the quickest time to complete the registration, status tracking online, secure online payment, the ability to upload certain deposits materials as electronic files, and 24/7 availability. Anyone can use eCO and most types of works are eligible for eCO (but note that groups of contributions to periodicals cannot use eCO). Currently eCO will accept registrations for (1) a single work; (2) a group of unpublished works by the same author and owned by the same copyright claimant; or (3) multiple works contained in the same unit of publication and owned by the same claimant (such as a book of photographs). The eCO registration process requires filling in the online application form, making payment, and submitting deposit copies.
The deposit copies for eCO can be electronic in a number of situations, including if the work being registered is unpublished, has only been published electronically, or is a published work for which identifying material would be used instead of the work itself. Identifying material for a work of visual art might be used if the work is three dimensional or oversized (more than 96 inches in any dimension). The deposit requirements, including the use of identifying material, are set forth in Circular 40A, Deposit Requirements for Registration of Claims to Copyright in Visual Arts Material. ITAL If a work is eligible for eCO registration but the deposit cannot be electronic, a hard copy can be used and sent to the Copyright Office. General guidelines to registration can be found in Circular 40, Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts.
If eCO registration cannot be used, the next best alternative would be filling in Form CO on the Copyright Office Web site. Form VA is one of the forms for which Form CO substitutes . A copy of the filled-in Form CO should be printed out and mailed to the Copyright Office along with the fee and deposit materials. The fee for registration using Form CO is currently $50.
The least preferable alternative for registration is to use paper forms, such as Form VA (for a work of Visual Art). To discourage use of paper forms, the fee for such an application is the highest–currently $65. Since eCO and Form CO are online processes, a copy of Form VA with instructions is included as Form 27. The goal of the Copyright Office is to phase out paper forms, but for the moment it can be used (at a higher cost) and has instructional value in terms of understanding the components of the online processes.
Of great interest to photographers is the possibility of registering groups of photographs. This is a way to dramatically reduce the cost of registering each photographer individually. Unpublished photographs always benefited from being eligible for registration as an unpublished group. This remains true whether registration is done by eCO, Form CO, or use of the paper Form VA. To qualify for registration as an unpublished group: (1) The group must have a title; (2) The photographs must be assembled neatly; (3) One author must have created or contributed to all the photographs; and (4) The same party must be the copyright claimant for all the photographs.
More problematic has been registering groups of published photographs. The American Society of Media Photographers played a key role in seeking to enlarge the possibilities for group registration of published photographers. Copyright Office publication FL-124, Group Registration of Published Photographs, explains how up to 750 photographs can be registered on one application using Form GR/PPh/CON (which includes Form VA). To qualify, the following conditions must be met: (1) The same photographer must have taken all the photographs; (2) All the photographs must have been published in the same calendar year; and (3) The copyright claimant for all the photographs must be the same.
FL-124 explains that more than 750 photographs can be registered for a single filing fee if the photographer uses Form CO or Form VA, but to do so the date of publication must be included with each photograph deposited. Also, Form CO or Form VA can only be used for such groups if the group is unpublished photographs assembled into a collection as explained in the preceding paragraph or published works within one unit of publication (such as photographs in a book). [This paragraph is a problem, because the Web site info for Form CO contradicts FL-124. On 8/2 I queried the Copyright Office to get an answer to this.]
In addition, photographs published in newspapers or magazines during a twelve month period can be made into a group on Form GR/CP (which includes Form VA). This is possible if: (1) The same photographer created all the photographs; (2) The author is not an employer for hire; (3) The photographs all were published in the same twelve-month period as contributions to newspapers or magazines; and (4) The copyright claimant is the same for all the photographs.
For a more extensive discussion of the legal aspects of copyright, the photographer can consult Legal Guide for the Visual Artist by Tad Crawford (Allworth Press).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Allworth Press; Fourth Edition edition (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581156693
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581156690
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book based on positive reviews here on Amazon, and I disagree with those opinions of its usefulness.

I purchased the book primarily for reliable drafts of contracts for wedding and event photography. The wedding photography segment is not thorough. The draft agreement leaves out a number of vital elements, and the book does not elsewhere discuss them. Other segments of the book appear to suffer from the same superficial treatment.

I am a trademark attorney, and practiced at the US Patent and Trademark Office several years ago, and the trademark section of this book is a decade out of date. The author acknowledges the USPTO's preference for online filing, but then provides guidance only for paper filings, and the relevance of even that guidance is questionable. The guidance was clearly an afterthought, and the author put absolutely no current research (despite a number of recent revisions to the book) into the matter.

I rate the book at two stars, rather than one star, because the author's explanation of negotiation processes demonstrates experience and insight, and can be valuable to photographers who have never entered into legal agreements about their work. However, the author's advice about trademark protection alone calls into question the value and accuracy of the remainder of the book, and the draft agreements I was hoping for are too shallow, so I cannot recommend the book.

I would recommend John Harrington's Best Business Practices for Photographers, an excellent, very thorough, and up-to-date legal and business primer for photographers starting a business.
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Format: Paperback
Nothing is more boring for a photographer than paging through a form book of contracts. Nothing is more important for a photographer who derives income from his pictures than having written agreements with his clients.

"Business and Legal Forms for Photographers" opens with a broad discussion of photographer's contracts, including the "boilerplate" that appears in most of the contracts and their meaning, including such elements as to whether the parties may assign the contracts and in what forum disputes will be settled. The book then presents 34 different kinds of agreements ranging from simple model releases to contracts relating to a book deal. In each case there is a general discussion of the important elements of the contract, followed by a check list of items to consider in the contract, and then the actual contract. The book also includes a CD containing each of the contracts in .pdf, Microsoft Word .doc and rich text format. This gives the user the opportunity to cut and paste to create an appropriate contract.

Although I am a lawyer, when I reviewed this book I wore my hats as a photographer who occasionally enters into such contracts and as a former business officer who negotiated many, many contracts. (I have to add the mandatory disclaimer here that I am not rendering legal advice and that if you have legal questions you should consult your attorney.) It appeared to me that all of these contracts contained the necessary conditions for a good business relationship. On the other hand, particularly where big dollars are involved, like say, a long term lease of space, one might want an attorney to review the agreement as well.
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Format: Paperback
I have the old "Revised Edition" of this book from 1999, which has come in handy for preparing different contracts over the years. I ordered this new edition thinking that there would be more emphasis on the digital age, as this was barely touched upon in the 1999 edition. I was disappointed to see that there were few changes to the forms (granted, I did not compare the books page-for-page, but on the forms I have used, there were hardly any changes). For example, the Wedding contract is verbatim with the 1999 version, save for 1 additional paragraph in the T&C section mentioning proof images on disc (as opposed to the old proof book or negatives). It does include 8 new forms: Trademark Application, Employment Application, Employment Agreement, Restrictive Covenant for Employment, Project Employee Contract, Commercial Lease, Sublease, and Lease Agreement. I assume some of these forms were added in the editions between 1999 and now. In short, this is a very handy reference tool for photographers of all sorts, but if you've got an older version you're best bet is to stick with that. Unless of course one of the new forms is particularly relevant to you, but I'd probably check to see if my local library had it first. Me, I'm sending this shiny new edition back & I'll stick to my old dog-eared copy until they decide to really address the digital aspects.
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Format: Kindle Edition
As best I can tell, the Kindle edition of this book does not include access to the contents of the CD-ROM, which are most of the reason to purchase the book. Tad Crawford & Allsworth Press, say it ain't so!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book to assist me in writing contracts and model releases as well as a few others. I was disappointed when I looked on the CD for sample forms for Application for Copyright and Trademark Applications were not even there. I found better form through the Professional Photographers of America website as well as a few other sources.

Save your money and listen to the 3 and below stars.
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