Want to get 1st-notice of upcoming PB&J Sessions?These limited edition sessions are only available to our e-news subscribers appointments are on a First-Come, First-Serve basis.
Category Archives: Copyright Law for Photographs
By anissa | Published 01/26/2011
With easy, low-cost access to scanners, great photo-printers, and right-click-copy access right at our fingertips, copying professionally-created images is quickly creating a “grey-area” about whether it’s right or wrong to reproduce and publish professional photographs.
Copyright is a property right. Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976 (effective January 1, 1978 and amended when the USA joined the Berne Convention in 1989), photographs are protected by copyright from the moment of creation.
A common question that I hear from my clients is, “Can I copy and/or scan my images into digital so I can put them on my blog and/or Facebook?” Personally, my heart leaps with joy when I see my images on the web! For a couple of reasons: First, it lets me know that my client loved their images so much that they want to show them off to friends, family, clients, business associates, and so on! Second, my images are seen by more people than I can reach personally or through paid marketing ads. It’s a WIN-WIN! So, I actually will post Facebook images FOR my clients, and I encourage everyone to re-post, retweet, and connect my blog to their social media using the “easy-buttons” at the bottom of each post. However, there are a few things that I ask in return, as well as copyright laws to be aware of when posting my, or any artist’s, work online.
ASK ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S REPRINT POLICIES IN ADVANCE
1) You SHOULD ask your photographer what their specific policy is regarding copying pictures from their blogs or Facebook site. Some photographers definitely encourage it, while some don’t allow it in any form for any reason. If having access to images online is important to you, then you should have this discussion with your photographer BEFORE you commission your project, event or portrait session.
GIVE PROPER CREDIT
2) If the photographer has given you reprint permission for a specific image(s), you SHOULD include the artist’s name and website under EACH image (a link would be even better). Reprint permission is given IN WRITING, is specific to certain image(s), and restricted to personal use, unless otherwise specified.
CROP WITH CARE
3) When re-posting and image online, you SHOULD NOT crop out the artist’s signature, studio name, logo, etc. Most photographers use Social Sites and blogs to advertise their work. If the logo is cropped out, it may interfere with the artists’ ability to represent and market their business. Most clients are super-excited to get a “sneak-peek” at their session before the actual Ordering Appointment!
DO NOT ALTER IMAGES
4) Along with cropping, you also SHOULD NOT edit the picture in any way (including color to B&W and vice-versa. Unless you have paid for the digital negatives you can’t alter the files in any way (unless specified in your reprint permission document that you may do so). The photo creation session is only part of the art of producing the final image. The other part is the artistry of editing, which produces the photographer’s ultimate goal of emotions or thoughts evoked by the image. If you don’t like your photographer’s finished images so much that you feel the need to Photoshop it yourself, you should probably find another photographer to work with in the future.
CHECK PRINT PRICES DURING YOUR CONSULTATION
5) Finally, you SHOULD NOT try to copy/print from Facebook, Flickr, or a blog site. Files uploaded to the web are compressed into tiny files in order to speed page upload times. The files are so small that they will look pixelated (lots of tiny squares) and blurry when printed (even a wallet size!). Additionally, scanning a printed image degrades the quality of the original image and will look unprofessional, while still maintaining the photographer’s signature (NOT a good reflection on the photographer’s work).
If you’re going to invest in a professional photo session, make sure you know how much the final portraits will cost, to avoid “sticker-shock” once you’re at the ordering appointment. Avoid the HUGE disappointment of falling in love with your photos, but not being able to afford them! A photographer works during the pre-portrait consultation, the actual shooting session, and the Preview & Ordering Session the same way that you work at your job in order to get a paycheck. By printing images from the web, rather than paying for them, you’re cheating your photographer out of his or her paycheck—and, even though that isn’t your intention, that’s not the way you would want to be treated. The same principle applies to scanning prints that you already bought; it’s still considered stealing under Federal Copyright Law. The best way to share your photos that have been posted on a blog is to click on the Socical Media Share Buttons, or Retweet to your followers—I LOVE when my clients do that!
As always, comments and specific questions about copying photos are welcome here!