If there is any one topic that I am passionate about in the field of photography, it is the topic of copyright and intellectual property of photographs. In this era of social media, the internet the lack of respect to who actually owns those photos has been lost. I'm not saying it is all intentional or that people are doing it to be malicious. I am sure some are but the person in me tries to believe that in general all people are good. That the things I come across really is just ignorance and lack of being informed. Hopefully after reading this blog post you will walk away a little more informed. I also want to point out that I am not a lawyer and can not provide legal counsel as to how you should handle your work. I will post links at the end to help guide your way if you are an artist that wants to protect your work.
1. Who Owns the Image:
The moment that the photographer snaps the picture, that photograph becomes the property of the person that took the picture. My discussions and understanding is that you don't need any type of release, contract or any other legal document. I do however, suggest you document anything that you may post or attempt to make money on be it a model release, a portrait contract when photographing people. It's hard to get that when shooting landscape. At the very least you should make sure your camera can store metadata that at least stores your name and date picture was taken. This information is critical if you ever have to go to court because you will need to prove that you took the picture. Every picture I have taken is archived and can be produced with metadata showing my contact information.
2. Transferring Ownership Rights:
If you ever want or need to give up ownership rights and transfer them to someone else, you definitely want that documented in a legal contract. It should specify the file name(s), and who they are transferred to with the date of transfer. If a client wants the raw images, I give up my rights for $1000 per unedited image and it's theirs to do what they want with. However with that they can not tie me to the image at all. It is all in a document I have written up for both myself and the client to sign. If a customer wants the full rights to own a composite or edited photo then the price goes up dramatically based on the edits I done. They will get a full size .JPG for one price and if they want the .PSD (or equivalent) it is another price (which is much much higher). I will be honest, I don't want to sell the ownership rights to any of my work, so I price it super high to discourage people. If they are crazy enough to pay those prices then who am I to stand in the way of a fool and their money. I am willing to do a limited use contract for any of my work.
3. Contracts & Model Releases
Contracts and Model Releases are probably the most important things I do when it comes to me working with a client and/or a model. Both dictate how they can use the images, it also states what they can not do such as editing, instagram filters etc.
4. Copyright Your Photos