Does a person have a copyright in her picture if she has not obtained a registration from the United States Copyright Office? The answer is yes and no.

Generally, a person will have a common law copyright in a picture that they have taken. A good example is a “selfie,” i.e. a picture taken of oneself with a cell phone. Under certain circumstances, the common law will provide enough rights to allow someone to send a cease and desist letter if a picture is being used without consent.

However, the better approach is to file an application with the United States Copyright Office. The reason is that this provides for enhanced protections (statutory damages and attorney’s fees reimbursement).

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