A Word about Copyright
One of the most misunderstood (or disregarded) aspects of photography is copyrights. Who owns the copyright to a photograph? If one purchases photos from their photographer then what happens? Does the customer now own the photos? Can the customer print or share the photos? The simple and clear answers are no, and no. Unless the photographer specifies in writing via a print release form, it is in violation of copyright law to reproduce an image either in print or online sharing sites.
There is a wealth of information about copyright law that may be found on PPA's website. Here is the copyright notice that typically goes out with every sale to a customer:
The Copyright Act protects photographers by giving
the creator of the photograph the exclusive rights to copy,
edit and distribute the image by sale or transfer.
These exclusive rights make it illegal to copy, scan, edit
or share photographic prints and digital media without
the photographer’s permission. Violators of this Federal
Law will be subject to its civil and criminal penalties.
Be sure to discuss your copyright needs or questions
with your photographer; reasonable requests may be
The PPA has provided an awareness brochure to help understand and deal with copyright concerns. You can download a copy here: Copyright Brochure.
Per the PPA Website here are some points to keep in mind:
· Copyright is a property right.
· Just because you buy a print does not mean you have purchased the copyright.
· Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976, photographs are protected by copyright from the moment of creation.
· Photographers have the exclusive right to reproduce their photographs (right to control the making of copies).
· Unless you have permission from the photographer, you can’t copy, distribute (no scanning and sending them to others), publicly display (no putting them online), or create derivative works from photographs.
· Even small levels of infringement—copying a photo without permission—can have a devastating impact on a photographer’s ability to make a living.
· Copyright infringements—reproducing photos without permission—can result in civil and criminal penalties.
So bottom line - Make sure you obtain a proper release form from your photographer. This will not release the copyright but may specify at the photographers discretion - limited usage rights. For example, 'prints for personal use' or 'uploading to a social network'. There have been plenty of cases where customers use the photos in marketing campaigns whether online or in printed brochures and then find themselves in legal trouble down the road. Please read the attached brochure or visit PPA.com for more information.
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