Protecting Your Copyrighted Photography

December 16, 2010

A “Copyright” is an intellectual property right which is granted to the author (photographer) at the moment the artwork is created (when you take a photograph). You do not have to file paperwork, use the “©” symbol, or do anything else to hold that copyright. However – and this is a big however – you still do need to take measures to protect your images, as proving copyright infringement may be difficult, and in many cases, you may not even be aware that a copyrighted image has been used without your permission.

You can give the right to use your image away in the form of a license. When you license a photo, you retain the copyright, allowing you to reuse or re-license the image yourself at any time (unless otherwise noted in your licensing agreement). If you are hired to take a photo, you may negotiate to either sell or license the photo; the difference being if you sell the photo, the new owner then holds the copyright. You as a photographer need to make this distinction clear with your clients. Note that selling a reproduction of a photo (a print or a product with your photo on it) is not the same as selling the actual rights to the photo.

An event photographer commissioned to take photos should create an agreement with their clients and define who retains the copyright of the images. If you, as the photographer, retain the copyright, you have the right to charge for reprints and to use those photos elsewhere (say in your portfolio). Another caveat here is that it is good practice to have a model release in order to display a person’s likeness. It is important to make this agreement clear to a client who may be unfamiliar with copyright practices, and define whether you will allow the client to reproduce your photos on their own or if reproductions need to go through you. With online photo sharing being so prevalent, your clients are likely to share photos online without realizing this may be a copyright infringement.

An ethical publisher will not likely use your images without acquiring a proper license, however, a typical photography client may not be aware of the implications of copyright infringement, and may use your images illegally without hesitation.

How can you best protect your copyrighted images? Educating potential clients is a must, and for further protection, embed a digital watermark on your photos so that you can identify them as your copyrighted work. If you are displaying your photos online, also embed a visual watermark that serves as a deterrent to anyone who may otherwise print your photos or use them elsewhere on the Internet. is an online photo proofing service for photographers to upload, share, and sell photos online. ShootProof is dedicated to helping our photographers grow their photography business!

Article Source: Photography Tool writer
Protecting your copyrighted photography

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