Five Questions with “Photo Attorney” Carolyn E. Wright

Carolyn E. Wright

This week we would like you to meet “Photo Attorney” Carolyn E. Wright.

1. Please explain what you/your organization does, and describe your role.

I am an attorney with a practice aimed at the legal needs of photographers, both professional and amateur alike. My trade name is “Photo Attorney, ” and I have a blog at with 12+ years of free legal information for photographers. I help photographers with contract drafting/review, rights of privacy/publicity matters, and all copyright issues. Note that I cut back to a part-time basis last year, but several of my colleagues also are practicing in these areas.

2. What is your interest in copyright law? How do your constituents/clients rely on copyright law to support their livelihoods?

Copyright law provides protection for photographers’ biggest assets – the photographs themselves. My interest in copyright law is to help photographers understand and protect their copyrights. As a long-time photographer myself, I have a special perspective of photographers’ challenges.

3. If there was one thing that you wished the public understood about copyright, what would it be?

The most important issue for the public to understand about copyright is that using a copyrighted work (including reproducing, displaying, distributing, or creating a derivative work, such as creating a painting from a photograph) usually violates the photographer’s copyright, even if the person does not make money from the use.

4. What is your (or your clients’) biggest copyright-related challenge?

Photographers’ biggest copyright-related challenge is getting a fair amount of damages for copyright infringement. Hopefully, the CASE Act (to establish a small claims court for creators) will help with this challenge.

5. If there was one aspect of copyright law that you could change, what would that be and how would you change it?

It would be helpful for fair use to be better defined by the courts so that copyright owners and users could understand the differences between an authorized use and infringement.

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