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Copy rights law

Hi there. Have a question regarding copy rights.
A few days ago I submited some of my work, copyrighted in the congress library, USA in 2004 to a colombian magazine.
I talked to the lawyers publication and they told me I would have to resign my rights if I wanted to publish with them. I said no way and they agreed, verbally, to agree to my copy right. Anyway, on sunday a newspaper here published a couple of those pix to advertise the coming article in that magazine. I called the magazine editor and said that he had broken our agreement. He said he was very sorry about this and that he was going to make sure our aggreement was not going to be breached again. I said “I will send you a contract via email for you to return sign to me” That has not happened since we talked. I am worrying that those people don’t want to sign this contract so they can sell, resell those pix again and again. What should I do? Is the fact that I sent a contract via email, even if they haven’t signed and send it back to me, valid under international copy rights laws?
Any answers please.

by Carlos Villalon at 2007-05-09 16:01:42 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Bogota , Colombia | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Sorry, Carlos, I don’t know anything about Colombia copyright law, or how well copyright is enforced there. It would, of course, definitely be protected from infringement in the US and other countries, but I can’t tell you exactly which ones are good about that.

I will try to find out something on the internet, but in the meantime, can anyone else here help Carlos?

by Gayle Hegland | 09 May 2007 18:05 | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks Gayle

by Carlos Villalon | 09 May 2007 19:05 | Bogota, Colombia | | Report spam→
Dear Carlos, This is what I found on the internet regarding Colombia copyright law. Colombia is a signer of the International Berne Convention and so they have the same copyright laws as the US although it would then depend on how well they are enforced there.

See below:

“The following nations are signatories to the Berne Convention (1971 Paris text): Argentina, Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Benin (formerly Dahomey), Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), Cameroon, Canada, the Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon,
Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Holy See (Vatican City), Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar (Malagasy Republic), Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Pakistan,
Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, Zaire, and Zimbabwe. According to U.S. State Department Dispatches published since January 1992, additional nations to sign Berne include Gambia (Dec.
12, 1992), China (July 10, 1992) and Kenya (March 11, 1993).

What international treaties exist governing copyright, or “What is this Berne Convention I keep hearing about?”

The two major treaties governing copyright are the Berne Convention (U.S. Senate Treaty Doc. 99-27, KAV 2245, 1 B.D.I.E.L. 715; also reprinted at 17 U.S.C.A. 104). and the Universal Copyright Convention Colombia is also a member of the UCC(U.C.C.), (25 U.S.T. 1341, T.I.A.S. 7868, 1 B.D.I.E.L. 813 (1971 Paris text); and 6
U.S.T. 2731, T.I.A.S. 3324, 216 U.N.T.S. 132 (1952 Geneva text)). (Note: the abbreviation U.C.C. to denote the Universal Copyright Convention should not be confused with the same abbreviation to denote the Uniform Commercial Code.)

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works was established in 1886 in Berne, Switzerland. The text has been revised, and the current edition (and the one to which the United States and most other nations are a signatory) is the 1971 Paris text. The treaty is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an international organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Berne Convention has four main points: National treatment,
preclusion of formalities, minimum terms of protection, and minimum exclusive rights.

National treatment: Under Berne, an author’s rights are respected in another country as though the author were a national (citizen) of that country (Art. 5(1)). For example, works by U.S. authors are protected by French copyright in France, and vice versa, because both the U.S. and France are signatories to Berne. http://www.faqs.org/faqs/law/copyright/faq/part4/

Copyright Relations of the United States


Perhaps you might find some information through the NAHJ:


It looks as if some of their Board of Directors have lived in Bogota.

Are you familiar with any unions or journalistic trade organizations in Colombia? If not then, ask at the NAHJ if any of them know of one who could help you for membership fee, etc.

I saw some copyright lawyers listed in Bogota so there must be some concern there.

See attorney link below:


by Gayle Hegland | 11 May 2007 02:05 (ed. May 11 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Is the fact that I sent a contract via email, even if they haven’t signed and send it back to me, valid under international copy rights laws? Any answers please. c

Yes, your copyright is valid in Colombia under international law even if you never had emailed them a contract. They infringed on your work the moment that they printed it without permission or payment, regardless of not signing your contract. They are in violation of of both international and federal law and need to compensate you for the use of your intellectual property.

Again I do not know how well international copyright law is enforced in Colombia and I am not an attorney, but perhaps some of this information may help. Please post back any results you find out and I will post anything else I find as well.

Thanks and Good Luck, Carlos.


by Gayle Hegland | 11 May 2007 02:05 (ed. May 11 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Hola Carlos. I am learning some items about this issue. Try found some example and tips in the NPPA site, have some good links but some are private now, Editorial Photographers is one that do that. This is an example I have about the item you talked.
1. License. Subject to the terms of this license agreement, the Photographer grants Licensee a single, one time, worldwide, non-transferable, non-exclusive right to publish, reproduce, transmit and display, in whole or in part, image(s) produced by the Photographer (whether as part of a collection of images or as a single image), in any and all media for the purposes described below. The Photographer represents that he has the right to grant the license herein. All other rights to the Image(s), CD-ROM and accompanying materials (if applicable), including without limitation, copyright and all other rights, are retained by the Photographer.

If you found some good model of contract please pass the voice.
Saludos che, me alegra saber que hay otro colega sudamericano que esta tratando de poner las reglas de juego en claro.

by Hernan Zenteno | 11 May 2007 03:05 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
Yes, I’m not certain if I made myself as clear as you needed in my answers above, Carlos, but after you read some of the links Hernan has written down, it should all be much clearer.

Again, you own the rights to your work, even if you never registered with the Copyright Office. You own your creative property the moment you create it. You must either license your work through, for example: one-time reproduction rights only. Or you could sell your rights through contract but only for a substantial and fair amount considering that you will no longer be able to profit from licensing the image yourself any longer.

In your case your circumstances are only made much easier for you since you have already registered your copyrights. At least in the US you are entitled to much more compensation when the infringed work is already registered, for example: lawyers costs will be reimbursed through the court, also your settlement may be higher under these certain circumstances.

If a company asks to buy your copyrights then they obviously are showing some interest in them, and you would need to be fairly compensated. They wouldn’t care about getting your rights away from you if they didn’t think your photos had some intrinsic value and now they have proven they are worth enough payment to publish them by using them even without permission.

Perhaps it was a simple mistake, perhaps “they do this to everyone”, so you see you must set yourself apart as you already have and make certain they know your terms as you already have. If they do persist in using you work and still haven’t paid you for the first time, I believe you would write a “cease and desist letter” and demand your images and any negatives of transparencies back citing that the magazine and publisher are in violation of international copyright law at this time by infringing upon your creative property without consideration and due compensation.

In newspapers, my deadlines are so short and the turnarounds so fast that I include my licensing and contract terms right on my invoice. There is no purchase order. There is no contract to sign on either side since it is a one-time deal. Sometimes I may sign a limited time(say one year) contract for one-week webrights at 25% of original article and only with the original article, but usually only if I do a lot of business with the publication or AD.

So you should send them a proper invoice for the images they have already published. This would include the usual information such as: name of art buyer or editor, department, date of publication, description of image, full-color or B&W, one-time reproduction rights only, size? return of any negatives or images unless you are sending them digtally through computer, request a tearsheet for your records, web rights? and if so, not forever but for how long? personal info, going price for size and circulation, payment within 30 days of publication, or immediately upon publication, etc.

Again, if you have signed no contract with them, it doesn’t matter if they have returned your contract or not, signed or not. Also, if you have received no money from them for the publication of your images (within say 30 days at the longest) of publication then they are in violation of International copyright law. They need to compensate you for these images already published that they profited from.

Some publishers have sneaky ways to get your copyrights away from you, for example for a while there Playboy Magazine would have their rights grabbing contract on the back of your payment check in very tiny letters so that when one endorsed it to receive your money, often people didn’t realize that they just gave their licensing rights away just to get paid. Otherways, include the small print in contracts or legal clauses that are difficult to either read or are difficult for the layperson to understand.

This is why you are smart to use your own contract, since you should have a good understanding of it. Then you don’t have to hire a lawyer to help you understand theirs.

It may help to know how you approached this magazine for submission. Did you just drop your portfoilio off on the drop off day, or was it in answer to an advertised search, or did you solicite them through email or snailmail with a CD?

It still wouldn’t matter though, they still must compensate you for the using your images and it doesn’t sound like you ever signed anything with them. And as I said above, even if you had, they still would need to compensate you for the usage. They can’t just use your property for free unless you somehow allow it and then there still must be fair compensation for a product to be a legal contract.

I’m about ready to go to sleep and my eyes are starting to cross, so I hope this explanation didn’t ramble too much and I will overview for editing when I am able.

by Gayle Hegland | 11 May 2007 12:05 (ed. May 11 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Copyright Links:


Editorial Photographers

ASMP’s Copyright Application Tutorial

ASMP Enforcing your rights

by Gayle Hegland | 11 May 2007 12:05 | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Dirección Nacional de Derecho de Autor – Bogotá, D.C. – Colombia, Copyright Office, Ministry of the Interior and of Justice Special Administrative Department National Copyright Directorate

by Gayle Hegland | 11 May 2007 13:05 | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)

Directory of Intellectual Property Offices

by Gayle Hegland | 11 May 2007 13:05 | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Maybe these people may be able to help you, as well, Carlos. It least be able to give you a more realistic perspective on how successfully you can expect to enforce your creative rights in Bogota….

Journalists in Colombia Create New National Federation

by Gayle Hegland | 11 May 2007 15:05 | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Thank you all for all this help. Now I feel I have most of the tools to win over this fight, for all of us. Never let these people think you are merely a person who just release a shooter…

by Carlos Villalon | 11 May 2007 15:05 | Bogota, Colombia | | Report spam→
Good Luck, Carlos! (o:

by Gayle Hegland | 11 May 2007 16:05 | Montana, United States | | Report spam→

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Carlos Villalon, Photojournalist Carlos Villalon
Bogota , Colombia
Gayle Hegland, Editorial Artist Gayle Hegland
Editorial Artist
Montana , United States
Hernan Zenteno, Photographer Hernan Zenteno
Buenos Aires , Argentina ( EZE )


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