Registering your images with The United States Copyright Office isn’t as hard or as expensive as you may think. Here’s how and why you should register your photos.

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 a 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 $55.00 to register up to a 500 MB per ZIP file of images. Multiple zip files may be uploaded at the same time. Depending on the types of images you take and how many 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.

Published images, especially a collection are a little harder to register, but shouldn’t make a difference or deter anyone.

While there is a 500mb limit, you shouldn’t send large files. A small JPEG, 600-800px on the longest side, 72ppi, a JPEG compression of 5 or 6, and then in a zipped folder. So you can get 10,000 images that way.

Lightroom export preset

You can create your own or use this FREE Library of Congress Lightroom Preset to export your images at 600px on the long side.

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. I created a folder called 2017Q4-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. On a Mac, highlight the folder in the Finder then right click and choose “compress folder name” to create a zip file.

3 Steps to Registration

The United States Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress. You need to complete 3 simple steps to register your photos.

  1. Payment
  2. Image deposit

Open a new Case

Log in 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, Im 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: 2017 Q4 The Assassin

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


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.

Extra Resources