Registering photographic copyright work

Fact sheet P-24: Registering photographic work

Issued: 27th November 2009
Last amended: 20th December 2010

The registration of photographic copyright work is simple and affordable. When registering with the UK Copyright Service photographers can submit a collection of tens, hundreds or even thousands of images for a single registration fee.

  1. Understanding registration

    When you register you are asked to provide details of the work that you are registering. Occasionally the ‘work’ may be a single photo, but more typically it will be a collection of photos that are registered together under a single title.

    1. Registering a collection of photos

      Most photographers will submit a collection of images as a single work. Items registered as a collective work should form part of a single project or logical grouping, but you are free to group your photos (or other items) into works in any way that makes sense to you. Over time you may submit more works (other collections), or add new photos to an already registered collection using the update facility.

      When you register a collection you need to be aware that:

      • The copyright ownership of all the items should be the same.

        For example, if you are registering in your name the copyright owner of all the photos should be you.

      • A registration can only have a single title.

        The ‘title of work’ on the application form is simply a way for you to label the registration so you know what it contains. Typical examples of a title for a collective work could be the name of a type of event i.e. ‘Wedding Photos’, a specific project i.e. ‘Azores hotel pictures for ABC Travel Co.’, an ongoing theme or classification of photos i.e. ‘Pictures of Dogs’, or simply a date reference like ‘May 2012’.

    2. Registering an individual photo

      You can of course register a single photo in its own right. Although registering a collection of photos is more economical, there are times, particularly if a photo has special value, that it desirable to register that photo in its own right.

  2. Submitting your work

    Copyright registration can be carried out either online or by postal application.

    Online registration is cheaper and will provide immediate cover for your work.

    If there is a large amount of data, or if you have a slow or unreliable Internet connection, you may wish to consider a postal application instead.

    1. Registering online

      During online registration you will be asked to upload the files that make up your work. If you are registering a collection of photos you will probably have a lot of files and we strongly recommend that you take the following steps:

      • Create a directory on your computer to temporarily store the images.
      • Copy the images you wish to upload to the directory you just created.
      • Use an application such as WinZipWinRar/Rar7-ZipStuffIt, or Tar to create a single archive file (i.e. a .zip or .tar.gz file) from the directory (so you now have a single file containing all the photos).
      • Upload this archive file when you register online.

      We will accept any type of compressed archive files, although we recommend that a non-proprietary format (i.e. .zip, .tar.gz) is used. As with all electronic files you should choose common formats to ensure that software to read the files will be available in the future.

      Please be patient while uploading as most domestic ADSL lines will upload at between 1 and 2MB/minute, see our upload advice page for more details.

    2. Registering by postal application

      If registering by post - simply send a CD/DVD/BD or USB drive containing all the images you wish to include in the registration with your application.

  3. Updates and future work

    To ensure manageability, most photographers will group work into logical collections, (i.e. a specific project, a year, type of image), and treat each collection as a single registration. Additional photos for a already registered collection could be added as an update, while new projects should be treated as new registrations.

    More details on registration updates.

  4. Frequent questions
    1. Does the image quality matter?

      The resolution of submitted images does not really matter - it simply needs to be ‘good enough’ to illustrate the content of your work.

    2. Does the image format matter?

      No, you are free to submit in any format that is convenient to you. We do however recommend that standard common place formats are used to ensure future readability.

      JPEG is a particularly good format as it uses compression to reduce the file size, meaning you can get more images on a CD/DVD (etc) or reduce the time uploading if registering online.

    3. Can I submit ‘hard copy’ prints

      Yes, if you use a postal application, though there may be processing fees (see postal registration application form for details).

    4. If I register a collection what if someone copies just one?

      Regardless of how your photos are organised a registration is evidence of the full content that you submit. So as long as a particular photo is included in the submitted content, it is covered, and is evidence of your claim.

    5. How many photos can I submit as a single ‘work’?

      Submissions up to 20GB* in size can be made using the on-line registration system (*individual file limit is 2GB, but multiple files can be included in a single submission up to the 20GB maximum).

      Postal applications can be used for larger file sizes and hardcopy prints; please see the format processing notes for details on postal submissions.

    6. If I register images as one work can I sell images separately?

      Yes. Neither the fact that a work is registered nor the manner of registration places any restriction on how you choose to use your work.