We have commented on many occasions (and just recently on this site), that permitting an agent or stock agency to make, enforce or defend your copyright filings rather than doing those jobs yourself, can be a tricky business. Previously we referenced the fees that agents make in connection with these activities. That is money that could be in your pocket. We also mentioned that you may lose your ability to enforce your rights. There are even more problematic issues which we did not address in our short piece. Here’s proof:
The United States District Court, Southern District of New York in the case of Muench Photography, Inc. v. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing by Judge Loretta A. Preska, (May 4, 2010) has called into question certain “mass” copyright filings made by Corbis on behalf of its contributors. In fact, Judge Preska has ruled, “that Corbis is the author of the compilation (filings) …but the individual works are not registered“. This decision comes notwithstanding the efforts of PACA’s attorney Nancy Wolff with the copyright office (efforts referenced by the Judge) to uphold the legitimacy of these registrations and/or the Corbis format of registering the works of its contributors. The Copyright Office of course does not “advise the public” nor may it trump decisions of Federal Court judges, yet Corbis apparently relied on a letter issued by that office to support their “approach”.
We will be doing a complete analysis of the case in the next few days. You are always better off registering, enforcing and defending your copyrights yourself rather than having a stock agent, rep or syndicator takes over control of your most important asset – your copyrights. The full case (24 pages) is not as yet available on line to other than attorneys. If you want a copy send an e-mail requesting it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send it out to you via e-mail.
Ed & Jack