Copyright

_pfs4826Copyright, as it applies to the jobbing photographer. This not meant to be a definition of the Copyright Design and patents act.

In every day use the copyright remains with the photographer, unless specifically signed away. We, as many other agencies and photographers never relinquish our copyright, so if you commission a photographer do not expect to be able to use the images in any manner you wish. You will not be able to simply copy and distribute images willy-nilly. Likewise if the photographer wishes to use your wedding photographs in his portfolio, or on public display or as part of a promotional campaign in the press, he will be free to do so, unless you agree specifically that he will not.


If  you want to protect your images on the internet from copyright breaches, unfortunately there is currently no guaranteed method, short of defacing your image with a copyright logo. Watermarks can be undone, disabling “right mouse clicks” can be circumvented, so never place anything on the World Wide Web that can be reprinted, unless it is password protected.  Thumbnail images 100pixels high and wide are big enough to view but impossible to get a usable print from, Previews up to 300 pixels, at 72 dpi may be printable but to all intents and purposes are useless.

There are some grey areas that I should point out (I don’t have the answers but hopefully someone out there will)  Press photographers are regularly called upon to photograph someone else’s photograph, you may recall, that probably one of the most published pictures of the last couple of years was of Sarah Payne, taken (no doubt) by a professional photographer, (albeit a school photographer) so the copyright of this image remains with the photographer or his employers, however the image was supplied by the family and the press copied the image and supplied it to the Newspapers.

Question? so who does the copyright belong to? Tricky technically one could argue that the copy is the same as the original and therefore resides with the original photographer, you could also argue that the copy is a photographic original and the copyright belongs to the copier. I personally believe that the copyright remains with the original photographer, and any income I make is for supplying the image. Some further comment is available via the BJP at Copyright owner.

We issue a licence to use our images in exchange for a fee, the level of that fee depends on a number of factors, and may be limited in a number of key areas, geographic or time. As we don’t do wedding photographs, it would be wrong of me to comment on the scales of charges that they work to, however for our business the charge rates are never the same, and values may go up or down, depending on the image, and saleability, But invariably magazines and papers never get the copyright, only a first exclusive UK rights to use the image (sometimes not even exclusive) occasionally second rights as well (but then that’s when it gets really expensive).

The most common question that I am asked is “how do I copyright my images?” and usually when asked I’m never sure quite what it is they want to know, so I’ll deal with the principle areas below.

You don’t need to do anything to copyright your images, the very fact that you took the photograph means that the copyright belongs to you. You do not have to register copyright for a photographic image. There can be circumstances when the above statement is untrue. If you are under contract to an employer, and the image is produced as part of your work for your employer. (most employers will have an IPR and copyright grab clause in their employment contracts).

It is likely that the next biggest copyright argument is likely to take place between photographers (and the National and Regional Newspapers) and the Premiership amid the Football Association.  For several years the “big name” football clubs have been venting their spleens about how the players and the teams are shown in the press. 

They particularly dislike pictures of players brawling on the pitch or kicking other players upside down, to which the answer seems very simple to me, STOP THE OVER PAID TWATS BEHAVING LIKE SPOILT BRATS, then you have nothing negative for the photographers to record.  However the main issue, I am sure is money, they seem to think that sports photographers make millions of £££’s off sports images which I am sure many of you are aware we don’t, and they want some (Sorry All) of it.

You should have written terms and conditions if you are supplying images (or words) commercially to cover copyright issues, and they should always be included with any correspondence. In the event that you receive an attempt at copyright grab, do not ignore it, respond in the same manner stating that you always retain copyright. Several national publications have tried to grab copyright, with a clause added to their account settlements, these are un-enforceable unless they are signed and returned.

Your rights to sell the images you have taken should be considered your pension fund, without the copyright your images have little or no value to you (or anyone else should you wish to pass your images on as part of your legacy).

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