The discussion of copyright versus printing rights is difficult for many clients to understand, yet comes from a place of passion for photographers. I hope this blog can clear up a few questions of exactly what copyright is in reference to photographs and why it is so important to photographers.
What is digital copyright? Merriam-Webster defines copyright as the legal right to be the only one to reproduce, publish, and sell digital content. Only the photographer that takes the photograph retains the digital copyright to the images.
Why is it important to photographers? It is very expensive and time consuming to purchase equipment, capture images and process all of our digital files. If copyright didn't exist to protect the images that we produce, clients could take our images without compensating us. Therefore, professional photographers would cease to exist.
What is the difference between printing rights and joint copyright? Most clients just need printing rights which is the ability to take the digital files and have them printed at your vendor of choice. (Although we prefer that you print anything larger than gift prints through us so we can maintain boutique quality images). Clients are also allowed to post images onto their personal social media pages, tagging Head Over Heels Photography's page for credit. On the other hand, joint copyright only exists in very particular situations where a photographer works closely with an assistant or designer. The Copyright Act of 1976 states that a joint work is "a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into separable or inter-dependent parts of a unitary whole." Meaning, clients will never own a joint or shared copyright to their images.
What does all this really mean? At Head Over Heels Wedding Photography we LOVE what we do, a lot! & we want to continue to do it, forever!! So in order to continue to profit as a small business, clients must purchase the printing rights to their images before they are able to post online or print. Images, usually in the form a sneak peek, may be posted by the studio and can be tagged by the clients. These images cannot be saved and uploaded to the clients page, cropping out the studio watermark or without crediting the studio.