Step 1: Register at least one copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.
If you did not have time to prep for a batch registration, hopefully you know what your best-selling or most popular work is without even thinking. If you have not previously registered that work, this is the one to tackle today. Put on some music, open up a Firefox tab (the recommended browser for this task) and launch the tutorial.
It will cost $35 for one registration and it should take 1-2 hours, max. Let’s do this!
If you do nothing else today, you are already ahead of 99% of professional photographers in the U.S., according to the American Society of Media Photographers. (pg. 3, http://asmp.org/pdfs/CO-comments-20120223.pdf)
Step 2: Prepare a template for a cease and desist letter.
Remember, there is no one size fits all template. Here is one from Tech Republic that you can start with but the point of a template is to customize it as much as you can.
The point of this action item today is to have a document ready to go with your business information edited while leaving room for the specific infringement details if and when you need to use the letter. Draft it on your letterhead, and if you don’t have letterhead yet, make it today. (I just rebranded so I will be doing this step today myself).
3. Create or update the copyright policies on your website.
Place your policies as a notice in a visible place on your website. Most people put it in their sidebar. Beware of the risks of relying only on Creative Commons licenses.
Here are three levels of achievement for this step.
Good: If you don’t have a copyright notice on your website and/or shop, today is the day. If nothing else, start with an All Rights Reserved notice with the current year.
Better: Add on what permissions/restrictions you give people regarding blogging and pinning your work. State how you want to be credited if that is a requirement for your work.
Best: Kim Niles has one of the most comprehensive legal sections I have ever seen on an artist’s website because it clarifies the difference between purchasing her work and purchasing the rights to USE her work anywhere.
Whether you do one, two or three steps today, tomorrow, this week (or when you can carve out the time), you can sleep better knowing you have incorporated sound business practices to protect the beautiful things you work so hard to create all year.
Did the work? Then grab the badge because you are not a fool!