Answers to Questions About Copyright Law for Photographers

Brendan ConleyBy Attorney Brendan Conley

People often have misconceptions about copyright on photographs and other images. Many photographers and other visual artists have questions, such as: Do I have to register my copyright? Do I lose the rights to my photographs when I post them online? What can I do if my photo is used without permission? What is fair use? What is Creative Commons? How do I issue a DMCA takedown notice?

Benjamin Combs CC0I wrote these answers because I kept noticing confusing or incorrect information showing up in Internet discussions about these issues, and I wanted to provide a reference guide that people could turn to for accurate information. I hope that it is useful to you.

Please note: This website mainly addresses U.S. copyright law, which is a field of study for me, not a current practice area. This website presents general legal information and the sources of that information; it does not constitute legal advice and your use of it does not create an attorney-client relationship. For additional information, please consult the links, footnotes and recommended resources.

I cannot give advice about any specific situations you may encounter, but if you have a general question that I didn’t answer, or another perspective to share, please Leave a Comment.


Copyright Basics
Posting Online
Protecting Your Photos
Contracts and Other Rights
Fair Use, Licensing, and Excuses for Infringement
Other Issues

Recommended Resources

This website is copyright 2017-2023 by Brendan Conley. All Rights Reserved. If you wish to share it with others, please do so by linking to this page.We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. Many photographs featured on this site were kindly released into the public domain with a CC0 designation by the photographers through and

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