Owning the copyright is the “bread and butter” of all photographers. It’s how they keep revenue coming in from a one-time photo shoot. Customers may order reprints, which keep that revenue flowing.
The below article says it quite nicely on why Copyright is so important to photographers. I didn’t write this, but it says it very well. Somethings don’t quite apply to my business, but I kept them in to keep the original article intact.
A few things to note about my business:
- I only sell full release of my copyright to businesses. Businesses can usually afford the very expensive price to make it worth it for me to release my claim on my photos.
- For consumers, I can “license” the photos for certain uses.
- Please keep in mind that this can still be expensive, because I could be potentially loosing out on future reprints, and I also need to build in the time it took to post-process all the photos, and to keep track of the photos to make sure no copyright violations happen.
- There is no standard “fee”, I need to quote each shoot because each client’s use is very different. So I need to know the following (this is not a definitive list, but its the first general questions I ask):
- How many photos?
- What is the potential “use” for them (reprints, posting online, commercial, etc.)
- Do you want the BJPDS Printmark on the photos or not?
If a consumer is looking to make a profit from the photos (modeling, publication, etc.) that use is typically prohibited with my license agreements, but arrangement can be made (just be aware that the price to license will be very high).
Also, one thing that is not addressed below, is a mention on removing watermark/printmarks.
If you remove or crop out a watermark/printmark, you can be liable for a fine anywhere between $2,000 to $25,000 plus attorney fees. So if you have any images that have a small printmark in the corner, or a larger watermark for online images, please remember not to crop those out.
Article below reprinted by permission from Marinda Fowler.
How about a little education on the issue of copyright. Sounds like fun, right? Bear with me as this is going to be a bit lengthy. Go grab that coffee or diet coke now.
What is copyright?
The U.S. Constitution and the Federal Copyright Act give “copyright” protection to “authors” for their “original works,” such as photographs.
What does that mean?
Simply that the law protects the original works and gives the exclusive rights to reproduce them to the author. When the copyright has been violated, the author can pursue legal action and the offender can be held liable and fined.
So, what are the rules regarding the prints I purchased from my professional photographer?
Here are just a few examples of things that you may not do with your professional photos:
- Scan them – for any reason
- Copy them
- Reprint them
- Crop watermarks out of photos and repost them on the web
- Edit them – in any way
- Take pictures of your printed professional photos (especially with your cell phone) and post them on the web.
Well, why can’t I scan them? The photos are of me and my family?
While the photos might be of you, they are not yours. The images belong to your professional photographer; who owns the copyright. Granted you may have purchased a print of the image, and you are encouraged to display that image and enjoy it. However, it is not at your disposal to make copies of by scanning or any other means. It’s actually against the law.
Also, most professional photographers like to maintain quality control over their work. There is a large quality difference between a scanned photo and one that your photographer creates and sizes for use on the web. We do not like to see our work all distorted and wonky because it has been scanned.
What’s the big deal?
The big deal is that your professional photographer works extremely hard at creating the beautiful images that you see. Everything from lighting, posing and post-processing goes into one single image. In that regard, your photographer will price their work to maintain a profitable business. When clients start scanning images and reprinting at home or worse, at local one-hour labs, they have basically stolen the ability for the photographer to make a profit from that image. Since selling their artwork is how photographers earn a living, it tends to make us unhappy when clients steal images from us.
Aunt Susie saw my photo and just wants to have one little copy of it. Now what?
Great! Your photographer will be thrilled to help you get one little copy of that photo for Aunt Susie. It’s always a great thing to hear that your family and friends love our work!
I bought the disc with the printing rights. What can’t I do with these images?
On the print release form, there will be instructions on what you can and cannot do with the images contained on the disc. However, just for the sake of education, I’ll give you a quickie list of those things.
Things you can do:
- make prints for personal use
- make greeting cards for personal use
- make photo books or photo gifts for personal use
- upload the images in the WEB folder onto the web to share with your family and friends (however, please do not remove the watermark)
Things you cannot do:
- enter the photos into contests – nope, not even those “cute baby” contests
- post full-size non-watermarked images on the web
- alter the images – part of your photography experience with your professional photographer will include the photographer’s time and talent in editing/processing your images.
What about the images on your blog and facebook?
The images on my blog are meant to be enjoyed and viewed. If you would like to share the images on my blog, please do so. All you have to do is share the link (URL) with your family and friends. Or, you can simply find share buttons at the top of each photo (titled “share”) and share them anywhere you’d like. (If you don’t see the share button, please contact me.)
The images on facebook are also meant to be enjoyed and viewed. I welcome and encourage you to tag yourself in the images on facebook or share the link to the images. I also welcome and encourage you to use the images on facebook as your profile photo as long as you do not remove the watermark in the cropping process. To avoid removing the watermark, simply drag the cropping bars all the way to the edge of the photo. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!
Okay, I get it. I might have violated your copyright policy. Now what?
Hey, don’t sweat it! We all make mistakes and I’m sure that you did not intend to do so. I simply ask you to make an attempt at rectifying the situation. If you’ve scanned images and posted them on the web, please take them down. If you need a watermarked copy of the images to use on the web, please contact me immediately and we can get that taken care of.
And please, please, please… promise to never do it again!
For more information on the issue of copyright, please take a moment to read through this article on photolaw.net: http://www.photolaw.net/common-questions-and-answers-about-copyright.html