Dummies Guide to Copyright for Photographers – Ok. You are a photographer (or other creative artists, it matters not). What does matter is that YOU create something new when you work.
When you create that NEW something it’s your creation, your product, your baby, your thing. You want to protect your product from other people taking advantage of you. So why is that I see lots and lots of new and established photographers (in some case very established) and other creative artists saying things like:
“Includes 100% copyright free images on a USB”
This was a wedding photographer with apparently 20 years of experience. What that photographer has done is literally give away any rights he/she has to their own creativity. They can not use them for marketing, for websites, for flyers, for brochures, for social media etc. They can not use them at all without the permission of the copyright holder… in this case their clients. It means if you do use an image from a wedding where you have given away the copyright the client can sue the photographer for illegal use. Or the client can charge the photographer for the use of the image etc.
See my point?
Understanding copyright law is essential for those running a creative business, such as wedding photography.
In a Nutshell
If you give the copyright of your creative works to someone else you LOSE the right to use it / amend it / sell it etc. That means you can’t make any extra money from it, it can be sold by the new copyright holder etc.
You take the photograph. You OWN the copyright. Check out the UK Government website on copyright.
Copyright for Photographers – Why the above photographer is wrong.
Think about JK Rowling.
How did she make her money? Writing books, the Harry Potter series of books to be exact. If JK Rowling had decided to give away the copyright to her books to her publisher she couldn’t benefit from it again. So it’s a one off payment, thank you very much and away she goes. Instead, being the business savvy lady she is, she keeps the copyright and gives the publishing company a license to publish with a percentage of the royalties going to her. She keeps the copyright of her work.
The Harry Potter Films made millions for JK Rowling. Why? Because, as she had kept the copyright to the books she could also sell the film rights as well, and the clothing rights, and the model figure rights etc.
If she had given away the copyright to her publishing house, it’s the publishing house that would have made all that money (not that they didn’t make a lot!). See my point? By giving away the copyright to your work you are giving away potential income.
But I Only Photograph Weddings
Really? Because I’m a wedding photographer and end up being a product photographer, florist photographer, jewellery photography, car photographer, venue photographer, suit photographer, dress photographer, ring photographer etc all in the same day.
So when those wedding suppliers come and ask you for a sample of your work (and yes, they should ask, not take!) you have a couple of choices:
1. You sell them a commercial license to use the images based on what they want to use them for. Print = higher price, social media = lower price. (what you charge is up to you!)
2. You give them a commercial license to use the images in exchange for a link back to your website or credit on the photograph if used for print. Backlinks are good for your Google SEO.
3. You give it away free of charge in exchange for that well known international currency “Exposure”.
Ask yourself this. If that supplier makes money from your images; why shouldn’t you charge them for it?
If you gave the copyright to the client, THEY would be able to make money from them by selling the use of the images back to the suppliers!
Download a FREE guide to Copyright for Photographers.
Basically, DON’T GIVE COPYRIGHT AWAY. Give a personal license to use the image to your clients.