We often don’t consider copyright when we look at our own family photos -- I mean, the pictures are of our family, so that means the pictures themselves are ours... right?? Well, yes and no. The prints and/or disc you purchased from your photographer are yours, but the images themselves are the work--and therefore the property--of the photographer. But what does that mean, exactly? Read on to learn all about copyright and your photos!
Copyright is the rights given to the creator for his/her artistic work. This means that copyright owners (the creators of a particular work) have the exclusive rights to:
-Make copies of the work or allow copies to be made
-Prepare other works based on the original (make prints, books, etc)
-Distribute copies of the work to the public by sales (sell the prints to you, the client)
-Publicly display the work or allow the work to be displayed
In a nutshell, this is what copyright means to you, the photography client:
1) Any prints you purchase can be displayed however you want in your own home. They cannot be displayed publicly (in a business or a public area) or sold without permission from the photographer.
3) Most photographers earn the bulk of their money by selling prints, so if you're making copies and giving them out to friends and family, you're basically stealing from the photographer. Yes, that means you'll need to purchase additional prints if you plan on handing some out to the grandparents.
4) Even small levels of infringement can have a devastating impact on a photographer’s ability to make a living. Also, any type of infringement can result in civil and criminal penalties--usually with heavy fines attached.
5) It's considered copyright infringement if you edit your photos in any way (change the colors, crop something out, use photo editing software on any part of the photo). It's also considered infringement if you crop off or hide the photographer's watermark (the text on the photo stating the photographer's name and/or business name: "X Photography".
6) If you receive the digital files and a copyright release from your photographer, you have all the same displaying rights as if you ordered prints, and most likely you also have the permission to download the photos to your computer, display them online (social networking sites, blogs, etc), and share them with your family. Make sure you carefully read the copyright release so you understand exactly what he/she is allowing you to do with your photos.
7) Most photographers will happily grant you permission to publicly display your photos (as long as they're properly cited) or give you the opportunity to buy more prints... all you have to do is ask! :)
8) It's your responsibility to honor the photographer and the business he/she is trying to run by using your photographs in the correct way.
9) When sharing photos online:
-You should cite the photographer so there's no mistake about who took the photographs. Example: "Photo taken by X Photography" or "copyright X Photography, 2011".
-It's also nice to include a link to the photographer's website and/or tag him/her in the photos so your audience can see more of his/her work. Example: "X Photography, www.xphotography.com" or use the "tag photos" feature on Facebook.