A picture may be worth a thousand words, but who does that value belong to? Copyright management is something that every professional photographer has to be intimately familiar with unless they want to get burned. And many follow the same strategy when it comes to the rights of their photograph to avoid issues with their portfolios and the rights of their clients.
Photographers Have the Copyright
Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976, photographer’s work is protected by copyright from the moment of creation. Today in the digital age, you will often see images watermarked or including text showing the copyright ownership to avoid unlicensed digital distribution. Many photos also contain the metadata the Copyright Status, who owns the copyright, and the Rights Usage Terms, all of which I cover in my blog, How to learn the usage/copyrights in a file's Metadata.
They Rarely Give These Rights Away
For many photographers, their photos are literally their primary source of income. As such, they rarely sign these rights away and instead hold the copyright personally and/or through their personal studio. Our ability to have a stable income is dependent on our ability to control who has the ability to use and reproduce our photos, and under what circumstances.
What Rights Do Their Clients Get?
This may leave you wondering what clients get when they contract a photographer to take photos for them. Generally speaking, all clients receive rights for unlimited use of the photography for self-promotion, such as online, in brochures, etc. They do not have the right to sell these photos or give the right for these photos to be used by a third-party. Those third parties must approach the photographer directly.
This can be a thorny issue for some photographers and clients, especially if they have been taken advantage in the past. Here at Shupe Studios, we believe it’s important to explain upfront and clearly about rights ownership, but also deliver the end-results in all formats and mediums the client desires. Want to learn more? Contact us today about your project.