Here’s an overview of what is discussed in this article:
- What exactly does it mean when something is copyrighted?
- What can I do as a business owner to protect my work?
- What does this mean to me as a photography client?
It's that time of year...to print all your holiday photos!
Mini sessions are wrapping up, final galleries have been delivered, and you’re getting ready to print your photos just in time for holiday cards. Sounds great, right! Well it’s also the time of year for lots of copyright violations. So before you print we should talk about copyright, why it’s so important, and how you can avoid any violations this holiday season.
So what exactly is copyright?
Under U.S. law, specifically The Copyright Act of 1976 and Title U.S.C. 17, original works of authorship are protected, such as literary works, musical works, including any accompanying words, dramatic works, including any accompanying music, pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings, and architectural works.
This of course includes visual works such as photography.
Copyright protection exists the moment your work is created and fixed in a tangible form that can be seen either directly (in a physical form) or with the aid of a machine or device, such as a computer. While you’re not required to register with the U.S. Copyright Office to receive copyright protection, you will have to register if you would like to pursue a lawsuit for infringement of your work.
So how do I protect my work?
One way as business owners to make sure that your work is protected is to provide notice to your clients that you own the copyright to what you have created. This is why it’s especially important to have a Copyright clause in your contract spelling out that you are the owner of the original work and you are giving your clients a license to print, reproduce, and keep copies of those works.
Another added layer of protection for all you photography business owners out there is to add copyright information into the metadata on your photos. That way, it sticks with your image files all the way to the printing facility. This can be done in Lightroom when you import your RAW files and when you export the finished product.
See here for an example:
You should also provide your clients with a print release form--GET ONE HERE--to spell out exactly what your clients are getting when they receive their digital files (personal use printing only). This also allows them to avoid issues when they try to get prints from companies like Walmart which require a print release in order to create any copies for them.
As a client what do I need to look out for?
If you purchase an original work of art make sure you receive a contract that spells out exactly what your rights are in receiving that work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and especially to ask for a print release form! You’ve paid for the photos, so make sure you know exactly what you are receiving in terms of how you can print and use them!
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