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How to Register and Protect Your Images W/ The Library of Congress

Recently I wrote “adding copyright information“—reminding us to update our copyright information for the New Year. This quick tip made sure we added our copyright information to every photo we imported into Lightroom. Our next step to protect our images is to register them with the Library of Congress. Lightroom makes this final process just as fast and easy.

I thought my images were already protected?

The moment you capture an image, you automatically own the copyright of the image. If someone violates that right by using your image without your consent, you can take legal action. However, you need to register your image before a judge will hear the case. Let me stop for a moment and say I’m not a lawyer. I am a photographer. I received this information over the years from reliable sources: Jack Reznicki and Ed Greenburg. Ed is an intellectual property lawyer and Jack is commercial photographer and one of the most sought after educators. You can find more information on their blog, The Copyright Zone. For years they have been educating photographers, including myself, on copyright issues.

When should I register my images?

There is a small fee of $55 to register up to a 500 MB Zip file of images. The number and types of images you take will determines how often you should batch register your images. If you are part of the media and the images are time sensitive, you should register them immediately. It’s best to register your work before you publish it.

Lightroom export preset

The Copyright Office does not require a minimum or maximum size of file—a thumbnail that clearly depicts the photograph, such as 600 pixels on the long side, will be fine. To make life easy, I created a Library of Congress Preset free for you to download and use. Installing Lightroom Presets will walk you through installation.

Once installed follow these simple steps:

  • Select your images from inside Lightroom.
  • Right click on a selected image.
  • Click Export and select Library of Congress.
  • Choose a folder to save the images to. I created a folder called 2015Q1-Prepare for-Registration

The selected images are exported to our Prepare for Registration folder with the proper requirements we need. Use your favorite Zip program to compress your images. I use WinZip.

3 Steps to Registration

The United States Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress. You need to complete three simple steps to register your photos.

  1. Create a FREE account
  2. Open a case
  3. Pay the registration fee

Open a new Case

Login to your account and create a new case. You’ll have 12 sections to complete. Each section only takes a few minutes. Below is an example of my recent submission. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a lawyer. This example works for me—a photographer living in Florida. It’s best to consult a lawyer in your state and follow The Copyright Zone with Jack and Ed.

Type of Work: Work of Visual Art


  • Type: Title of work being registered
  • Title of this work: 2016 Q3 The Crown Series

Publication/Completion: No

Authors: Add me

Claimants: Add me

Limitation of Claim: Click continue

Rights & Permissions: Add me

Correspondent: Add me

Mail Certificate: Add me

Special Handling: Skip

Certification: Robert Louis Vanelli

Review Submission: Make sure everything is correct

Payment and Upload your Zip file

After you review your submission, the final step is to enter your payment information and upload your zip file. Your images are now in the final stage of being registered.

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