We were recently asked a question about the use of photographs, and wanted to shed some light on this topic. Here goes…drum roll please.

Unless a contract has been signed stating otherwise, the federal Copyright Act states that the photographer owns the copyrights on photographs and thus controls how they may be used.

The exception is if the client pays the photographer for photography services, and prior to shooting gets a contract signed by the photographer stating that the work will be a “work for hire”.

Things to remember about copyright:
  • A 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.
  • Professional photographers are dependent on their ability to control the reproduction of the photographs they create as it affects their income and the livelihood of their families.
  • 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.
Put copyright in perspective:
  • 65% of PPA photographers are self-employed photographers relying exclusively on photography as their primary source of income.
  • 47% of member studios rely on reprints as a profitable source of income.
How to get legal copies of professional photographs:
  • Contact the photographer/copyright owner. Photographers are happy to discuss options for reproducing photos with you.
  • Check both the front and back of a print for a copyright notice. If it is a school, sports or similar type photo, you may want to contact the institution where the photo was made.
Excerpts taken from PPA Americas
2017-01-13T20:13:57-04:00Copyright, Photography|0 Comments

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