How to Find Out If an Image Is Copyrighted?

By Thomas King

Federal copyright law protects "works of visual art." Images entitled to protection include photographs, drawings, diagrams, comic strips and other types of art work. An image is protected by copyright the moment it is created; generally, however, the owner of the image cannot recover damages from an infringer unless the work has been registered with the United States Copyright Office. You may be able to find out whether an image has been registered with the Copyright Office in several ways.

Step 1

Navigate to the United States Copyright Office website (link in Resources).

Step 2

Click "Search Records" at the top of the Copyright Office website.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now

Step 3

Click "Search the Catalog" under "Online Records."

Step 4

Click "Set Search Limits." Select "Visual Materials" from the "Image Type" box and click "Set Search Limits" again.

Step 5

Choose a search method from the "Search by" box and type your query or keywords into the "Search For" box. For example, if you know that the image name is "Craddox Mazes," select "Title" from the "Search by" box and type "Craddox Mazes" in the "Search For" box. You can also search by keyword (such as a description of the image) if you don't know the title. If you do not have any information about the image, you may need to seek assistance from a Library of Congress staff member, as described in the next step.

Step 6

Click "Begin Search." If the image does not appear in the search results, it may mean that it was registered prior to 1978. Older images can only be found in the copyright card catalog, located in the Copyright Public Records reading room at the following address: Library of Congress Copyright Office–IRD Records Research and Certification Section 101 Independence Avenue SE Washington DC 20559-6300 Fax: 202-252-3485 Tel.: 202-707-6850 For help locating an image in the catalog, you can enlist a staff member to assist you. Be prepared to provide as much information about the image as you can such as title, artist, copyright owner and the date the image was published, if known. No fee is assessed if you perform the search yourself, but if you require staff assistance, you will be charged by the hour.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now
How to Run a Copyright Check for Songs

References

Resources

Related articles

What Does "Image May Be Subject to Copyright" Mean?

Images are widely available on the Internet. In fact, doing a simple search can yield hundreds of images that can easily be copied and pasted, or downloaded for later use. However, because images are readily accessible does not mean they are without copyright protection, although determining the identity of a copyright owner is not always obvious or easy. For this reason, online entities often include the disclaimer, "image may be subject to copyright" on or near photos.

How to Make a Copyright Page

The copyright page is where the publisher places all the legal notices and information related to a book. If you are self-publishing, you will need to create a copyright page yourself. The most important element of the copyright page is the copyright notice itself. This notice protects your work from unauthorized use by notifying others that the work was created by you. You do not have to register a work with the United States Copyright Office in order to create a copyright page or have copyright protection.

How to Trademark a Shape

A trademark is phrase, symbol or design element that identifies the brand of a product or service. Unlike a copyright or patent, trademark protection takes effect as soon as the mark is first used in commerce, even without registration. Non-traditional trademarks include shapes, such as the trademark for the three-dimensional iPod shape granted to Apple by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in January 2012.

Related articles

How to Find the Address of a Person Holding a Copyright

Copyright laws protect artistic works, such as stories, songs and movies. Although an author of a work doesn't have to ...

How to Check If Something Has a Copyright on It

Copyright is a type of intellectual property law that protects the original works of various artists, including ...

How to Use Copyrighted Stencils

The U.S. Copyright Office allows artists to register copyrights to their work that limit others' ability to create ...

How to Copyright a Poster

Federal copyright laws protect the creative expression of ideas, such as designing and producing a poster. A creative ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED