I recently put together a video about photography copyright. It’s a short video about the background of copyright and what photographers should know in order to better educate their clients. See the video below.
It all started with the Constitution
The United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8 states —
The Congress shall have Power to Promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
The photographer is considered the author or creator of a photograph or image that is original work. They have the exclusive right to copy, distribute, edit, and adapt that work. In more simple terms, the photographer is the owner of the images they create and because they have created those images, they have exclusive control over them.
More and more photographers are providing digital images to their clients. These clients generally don’t know very much about copyright laws. They don’t understand what they can and can’t do with their images. I recently saw a comment from a photographer regarding a client who copied a watermarked image from Facebook and applied some “selective color” magic. The newly edited photo did NOT reflect the photographer’s style at all…which was no surprise. And of course, the photographer was upset.
There could be similar drama for prints and albums as well. Even clients who are not provided with digital images, can easily use their scanner to “make” digital images for themselves, or duplicate an 8×10 photo for grandma and grandpa to save $30.
Some copyright infringements are knowingly and malicious. That does happen sometimes when images get into the wrong hands. But when it comes to our clients – I think that many clients just need to be educated.
Photographers can help prevent some of these issues by having a discussion about copyright with their clients. Put it out there, explain to them, from an artists perspective, why your copyright is so important. Digital images are plastered everywhere these days, some clients don’t get it – that these images are your art and that you own them…
Client Copyright Information Cards
Provide a Client Copyright Information Card along with any products that you hand over to the client. Don’t reinvent the wheel! I am giving you the template wording for an awesome Client Copyright Information Card. Use the text to design a 5×5 card that you can send off for printing at your favorite lab. Then make sure this card accompanies every product you pass on to a client!
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