ASMP — American Society of Media Photographers

ASMP’s Cavanaugh Speaks On Copyright Registration Improvements For Photographers

By March 8, 2011August 30th, 2016Press Release

Eugene H. Mopsik, Executive Director
American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP)
Phone: 215 451 2767

Philadelphia, PA… James Cavanaugh, First Vice President of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), spoke recently about the importance of copyright registration for photographers and the obstacles faced with the current registration system. He also recommended system improvements at the Public Knowledge event, “Toward a Copyright Office for the 21st Century,” held on March 7, 2011 in Washington D.C. His remarks were part of a panel discussion on Modernizing the Copyright Registration & Recordation Systems.

According to Cavanaugh, “Copyright registration is critical in order for photographers to have full protection of their works and resolve or litigate copyright claims which may arise. With prospective legislation on orphan works, where it is difficult or impossible to contact the copyright holder — as well as other emerging trends such as the dramatic growth of the electronic transmission of images — registration has, in essence, become a necessity for the photography profession.”

Cavanaugh said, “Copyright registrations by photographers are increasing and yet ASMP has found many members and others have not taken this important step to protect their works due to complexity of the process and cost factors, among other reasons.” Cavanaugh went on suggest four key areas of improvement to the current registration process.


  • The registration process should be modernized, with software providers encouraged to offer menu items to link their applications directly to the Copyright Office’s electronic filing system.


  • The Copyright Act needs to be amended and the registration process streamlined by eliminating the distinction between images that are “published” and images that are “unpublished.”


  • An annual registration fee for each individual creator should be offered.


  • A federal small claims resolution system is recommended to adjudicate the large number of smaller copyright infringement cases.


ASMP has encouraged photographers to register their work through recent efforts such as: Registration ©ounts, an ASMP initiative to create awareness of copyright issues, to encourage all photographers to register their work, and to provide the tools and information needed for registration; educational registration workshops most recently held in 25 cities throughout the country; and an online copyright tutorialwhich is regularly updated and posted on ASMP’s web site.

ASMP plans to continue to provide leadership on this critical issue by communicating the importance of registration, joining with other trade groups and organizations to address registration issues, and offering thoughts and ideas to regulatory agencies for making the registration process more efficient and effective for all.

ASMP is the premier trade association for imaging professionals, providing members with all the tools, information and support needed to run successful photography businesses. Over 7,000 strong with chapters throughout the country, ASMP members are recognized as a community of forward-thinking professionals.

A copy of the white paper Overcoming Obstacles to Copyright Registration, which served as background for Cavanaugh’s discussion, is freely available.

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