I was working as a camera assistant for a tv show and was also given the task of on set photographer. I have yet to be paid from this company and I'd like to copyright my photos so they cant use them without my permission. I dont recall signing a contract stating who owns the rights to the photos. I have the original photos, but so do they. Can I go ahead and copyright my photos?
2 Answers from Attorneys
Thanks for your question.
If you were an employee of the show and taking these pictures was within the scope of your employment, which seems to be the case here, then your employer would be the copyright owner of the work by operation of US copyright law, not you. This does not mean you do not have wage claims you can bring against them if they owe you money, only that you would not have a copyright infringement action.
Further, if you were not an employee but rather an independent contractor, you still would have transferred an implied license on the use of these photos for their intended purpose, but would retain the underlying CR interest unless this was done through a work-for-hire/assignment agreement. In this case, and assuming the facts are there, you may have a copyright claim if your creative efforts went unpaid.
It is also important to keep in mind that the material in question will need to be registered with the US copyright office before you would be able to bring an infringement action to court and doing so post infringement will disqualify you from asking the court to assess statutory damages. This means you will be left with real (compensatory) damages and you should consider the cost benefit for getting involved in the action.
To get at a real answer will require an understanding of all the facts in more detail. If you would like to discuss further over a free phone consult, feel free to contact me anytime that is convenient.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis
You need a lawyer to go after them to pay you.
Copyrighting the pictures...not sure that will do it.
Come see me, and I will go after them.
Robert Davies, Esq.
201 820 3460
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