What is copyright and how does it affect you (the client)? Part 3

If you have not ready What is copyright and how does it affect you (the client)? Part 1, click here.
If you have not ready What is copyright and how does it affect you (the client)? Part 2, click here.

Test your knowledge

Example 1

Sally Sue and her family just got done taking photographs with a local photographer. She was sent the sneak peeks of her photographs through the photographer’s blog and could not be more excited and overjoyed on how well they turned out. She screenshots them all and posts them on social media. What has just happened?

  1. Everything is perfectly fine. She did nothing wrong.

  2. She did not give credit to the photographer. Since this is a reproduction of the work, this would be considered copyright infringement.

  3. Since she didn’t actually print these, she is fair game.

Example 2:

John Deer just got some branding photos done for his tractor supply company. His photographer knows that these photos are going to be used in promotions and will be all over John’s websites. They had discussed and put in the contract that the photographer will give John the printing rights, as long as any digital works have credited the photographer with links back to the photographer’s social media and website. John uses these on billboards, print ads, as well as website advertising. He even uses them as social media marketing pieces. Every time, there is no name written, but tags and link are embedded in the photographs. What has John done?

  1. John did everything that was specified in the contract. He has not done anything wrong.

  2. He forgot to have everything link back to the photographer. He broke the contract which can be held up in court.

  3. He used his own labs to print the billboards. This would be copyright infringement.

Example 3:

Olivia Benson’s son Noah, just had a birthday. She hired a photographer so no one would be left out of the photographs. It was very last minute and Olivia didn’t have time to read over the contract (her job has her work LONG hours), and signed it without looking it over. A week later, she received the digitals in an online gallery and she picks her favorite one to post on social media. Since it was a vertical photo, Instagram cut off part of the photo, so it made her crop the photo. What has just happened?

  1. Since she didn’t have time to read through the contract, how would she have known if she ever did do anything wrong? As far as she knows, she is doing everything right.

  2. Because Olivia signed the contract, she is legally bound to it. She didn’t notice there was a printing rights clause as well as a digital media clause. In the digital media clause, it says she must tag the photographer as well as not alter the image in any way, including cropping. Since she signed it, she has violated copyright law.

  3. Olivia violated copyright law. With or without a contract, she altered the photographer’s work. Sure it was unintentional, but it still happened.

Copyright law infringement is a serious offense.

Photographers try their very best to make sure that you are educated and know what to do and what not to do (like talking them through their contract, writing blog posts like this one, and reinforcing it through out the experience). This is also why there are contracts in place, to make the unaware, aware. It’s not to be difficult or to add more steps to your life, but to protect you and the photographer both.

In my business, before I even first meet with you, I send you a copy of the contract that will be just like you would sign. I want you to have a chance to look it over and feel confident in what you are signing. I want to be completely transparent and be able to give you the chance to question anything that is written.

So take my advice and ask all photographers for their contract ahead of time so that way you can be confident in your purchase with them.

If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to me.

You can also download a one-page summary by going to this link!

What is copyright and how does it affect you (the client)? Part 1

Since the dawn of time, creators, writers, artists and anyone that makes something or produces work, have had to deal with people wanting to copy their work or pass it off as their own. Some even want to make a quick buck. So in 1790, the first Copyright Act was signed. This was to help encourage creation. The most recent and current law is the Copyright Act of 1976 and has had two amendments since then. As a photographer, this means so much and it means that I have to educate everyone on what that means to them.

So, I wanted to take the time to share with you my knowledge on the Copyright Law, how it affects you, and what steps you can use to make sure you don’t get caught in a sticky situation.

I want to set the preface that not all photographers treat copyright law the same. Some like to make sure that you know for sure what it means and can even take you to court on it, while others can just ignore it. Don’t let this deter you from working with a certain photographer. Just make sure you are on the same page as them when you do hire one. This post is to simply educate what it is and what can come from it.

What is copyright?

By definition “Copyright is the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.” This means that someone who creates something, owns it.
According to the Copyright Society of the USA, “[…] that whenever you write a poem or story or even a paper for your class, or a drawing or other artwork, you automatically own the copyright to it. Copyright is a form of protection given to the authors or creators of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and other intellectual works. What that means is that, as the author of the work, you alone have the right to do any of the following or to let others do any of the following:

  • make copies of your work;

  • distribute copies of your work;

  • perform your work publicly (such as for plays, film, dances or music);

  • display your work publicly (such as for artwork, or stills from audiovisual works, or any material used on the Internet or television); and

  • make “derivative works” (including making modifications, adaptations or other new uses of a work, or translating the work to another media).”

In general, it is illegal for anyone to do any of the things listed above with a work created by you without your permission, but there are some exceptions and limitations to your rights as a copyright holder. One major limitation is the doctrine of “Fair Use,” which I later discuss.

What does the copyright law state?

The federal copyright law is called title 17 of the United States Code. It includes all amendments enacted by Congress through June 30, 2016, the Copyright Act of 1976 and all subsequent amendments to copyright law; the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984, as amended; and the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act, as amended. The Copyright Office is responsible for registering intellectual property claims under all three.
There is a lot that states it, and I am going to try to break it down for you. But if you want to read it in its entire 370 pages of work, you can read that here.

What does that mean?

Ultimately, it makes sure that people that make things (i.e. creators) don’t have their work used without compensation. An example would be to print a photo you didn’t pay for.

To read “What is copyright and how does it affect you (the client)? Part 2”, click here!