Copyright and Photography

28th February 2018
In: Blog


THE PHOTOGRAPHY COPYRIGHT MYTH
It’s one of the biggest grey areas for photography clients. Image copyright. It comes to the fore especially when digital image files have been purchased. There is a belief that by buying said files from their photographer, the client then owns the copyright of the images too. Although some photographers may apparently sell the copyright to their images, a vast majority won’t.

WHAT IS COPYRIGHT?
To explain photographic images/files and the respective rights of the photographer and the client, it’s important to understand what copyright actually is.

Copyright protects a creative’s work and stops others from using it without their permission. I’ll narrow this right down to photography, but other fields of creation are covered too. See more informationexplaining copyright on the gov.uk website

Copyright protection is automatic for those that create original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including illustration and photography
There is no application or fee required.
There isn’t a register of copyright works in the UK.

Work can be marked with the copyright symbol (©), with name of creator, and the year of creation. Whether marked or not, doesn’t affect the level of protection.

How copyright protects work
Copyright prevents people from:
* copying the work
* distributing copies of it, whether free of charge or for sale
* renting or lending copies of the work
* performing, showing or playing the work in public
* making an adaptation of the work
* putting it on the internet

Take a look on your favourite social media site, and you’ll see countless examples of copyright breach!


As a photographer, you want your work to be seen, but used in the right way


WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS AND THEIR CLIENTS?
When hiring a photographer, a client will often believe they own the copyright of the photographs. After reading the section above, you will see this isn’t the case. The photographer will own the copyright of all images they create, and will sell on printed or digital copies of the image to the client.

BUT I HAVE THE FILE, I CAN DO WHAT I LIKE WITH IT!
No. The file will be sold ‘under licence’ - whether that means a ‘print’ or ‘reproduction license’, from which the client can print copies for their own domestic use, or for friends and family. However, they cannot upload online, edit, change or adapt that photo in anyway, or distribute without permission of the photographer. That would be a breach of the licence.

FILE USE FOR COMMERCIAL GAIN
Neither can the client supply the image to another user for commercial gain. For example, a portrait client may have had a hair and makeover completed by a make-up artist for the shoot. They cannot pass that file or image onto the MUA for use on their website or social media. That is use for commercial gain. The MUA would have to get permission directly from the photographer to use the image.


Sharing images with family and friends is important to my clients. Which I’m happy to help them do.


WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
I think it’s vital that people understand this. After all, hobby or professional, photographers depend on their work being used correctly and fairly. These days with the advent of digital photography and social media it becomes much harder to control.

ETIQUETTE - WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Even with permission, there are examples of poor etiquette and license/copyright breaches too. It’s a crowded market out there, give the photographers a little hand....it doesn’t hurt! So here are a few pointers as to how you can help....

A right to credit. Anyone posting another persons work should credit the photographer somewhere in that post. It helps people identify who took the image.

Don’t crop or remove watermarks.

Don’t edit the image yourself. The photographer has spent time and put their own style into that shot. If you want to edit photos, please take your own.

If you want to post images taken by a professional photographer, ask them for a suitable file. Personally, I will supply my clients with images correctly cropped to suit their requirements, whether that be a Facebook profile pic, or cover photo. I’m only too happy to help.

Finally. If in doubt, ask. We’re all nice people....just please give us the credit we deserve!

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