A photographer’s DIY guide to getting paid for copyright infringements

Unlike other copyright books for photographers that only discuss copyright law, Photo Repo shows you how to take matters into your own hands and enforce the law. During the three months it took me to write the book, I settled thirty-three copyright infringement cases for $14,665.00 without an attorney or a lawsuit. I’ve been successfully enforcing the copyrights for my photographs for three years, and now everything I’ve learned is available to you in Photo Repo. It’s now time for you to take back your work and demand to be paid!

See the Chapter Previews page for a synopsis of each chapter and experts from the book.

Photo Repo: A photographer's DIY guide to getting paid for copyright infringements


Whether you are a professional photographer or a talented enthusiast, if you posted photographs on the Internet, there is a good chance that a business is using them for commercial purposes. You wouldn’t simply ask a car thief to give back your car after he put 20,000 miles on it, and you shouldn’t ask a company that has been promoting its products and services with the help of your photographs to simply remove them. You demand to be paid. But do you sic an Intellectual Property attorney on the culprit right off the bat, someone who will demand a fee so steep that an unwitting business owner is going to have trouble sleeping at night? Or is there a more ethical way to go about this?

Photo Repo is a photographer’s guide to getting paid for copyright infringements in an ethical manner by dealing directly with copyright infringers and first offering them a reasonable settlement option before involving attorneys and lawsuits. The book covers the following topics:

  • Basics of copyright law as it pertains to photographs
  • Registering your photos with the U. S. Copyright Office
  • Finding unauthorized uses of your photos
  • Separating pursuable cases from time wasters
  • Tracking down infringers who don’t want to be found
  • Collecting evidence to support your infringement claim
  • Determining a proper settlement fee
  • Communicating with infringers
  • The key to success: the follow-up letter
  • Finding an Intellectual Property attorney who wants your unpaid cases


Three Reasons Why You Should Enforce Your Photograph Copyrights On Your Own



With every copyright infringement comes an individual infringer, each operating under a unique set of circumstances. Most have no idea they are breaking the law, and some aren’t even aware of the situation because it was their website designer who used your photo (the website owner is still liable). By handling copyright infringement cases on your own, you maintain the ability to make ethical decisions about settlement fees based on an infringer’s intent and ability to pay a reasonable fee.



By handling copyright infringements on your own, you keep 100% of the settlement fee instead of giving away 40-55% to attorneys or Copyright Enforcement Services. This allows you to offer a lower, more just settlement fee and actually make more money—and the lower your fee, the more likely you are to get paid. If an infringer chooses to ignore your offer, then you can turn over the case to an attorney with a clear conscience.



Attorneys and Copyright Enforcement Services have hundreds of photographer clients just like you, and it could take one or more months for them to even get to your case. Once they do send a demand letter, the typical settlement takes another two to three months. By handling copyright enforcement on your own, you can have a demand letter in the mail the same day you discover the infringement, and if an infringer is going to pay at all, it will be within a month. If you want money now, you must handle the collection side of copyright enforcement yourself.


Mark LaMontagne is a photographer who has been enforcing the copyrights of his photos for the last four years. His DIY approach gives copyright infringers a chance to pay a reasonable fee, and his recent 73% collection rate proves that his ethical approach works.

Mark studied film at Syracuse University. He ran a video production company from his dorm room, and after graduation worked as a film critic, hosting the TV show Film Forum in the early to mid-1990s. He recently wrote film reviews for the now-defunct J’adore Magazine. Always an excellent photographer, it wasn’t until operating a hockey rink in the early 2000s that Mark became a professional. One of the players saw his sports photography and asked Mark to photograph his band. Gigs for models, bands, weddings, and corporate events soon followed.

With many of his photos now on the Internet, Mark wondered where the photos might be residing. After doing some research on how to find them, he discovered hundreds of unauthorized uses of his photos, many for commercial purposes. Unable to find a contingency-fee attorney interested in such cases, he began studying copyright law and soon took matters into his own hands. On his first attempt at enforcing his copyrights, he sent out 80 demand letters and collected on 44% ($5,000) of the cases. Mark has since refined his demand letter into a potent instrument designed to convince people to pay. He now instigates the collection process every six months, and in his last three attempts he settled 77%, 80%, and 62% of his cases.