WHAT EXACTLY IS COPYRIGHT?
The U.S. Constitution and the Federal Copyright Act give “copyright” protection to “authors” for their “original works,” such as photographs. Among the protections that copyright owners have are the exclusive rights to: make copies of the work, prepare other works based on the original, distribute copies of the work to the public by sale, rental, lease, or lending, and to publicly perform and display the work. These rights are protected by laws which provide for damages and criminal penalties for violations. Both the customer and the lab that violates copyright are subject to the law.
WHO OWNS WHAT?
The law says the “author” is the owner of the copyright. The author of a photo or image is the person who snapped the shutter or created the image. If you took the photo, you own the copyright. If a professional photographer took the photo for you, then he or she owns the copyright. If you decide to purchase the digital negatives from your session, you own the right to make unlimited reproductions of the images for personal use only but the copyright remains with the photographer.
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?
The primary reason is maintaining our artistic integrity. Since our name is associated with the photos, we want complete quality control over the products and reprints. The second reason is financial. We invest a great deal of time and energy into creating the idea, setting, pose, lighting, and background to get the right shots for our clients. Our session fees are priced taking into account the fact that our customers will be purchasing their prints and products from us after the session. If the prints are obtained elsewhere, we lose the opportunity to recover funds for the effort expended. Many people have no idea about copyright and think since they paid us to take a picture of them that they own the copyright. This is far from true. While you own the prints you purchased, you do not own the right to copy the work in any way.
FINES FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENTS
Fines for copyright infringement now exceed $150,000 U.S. dollars (per infringement). In other words, if someone takes a image that they did not take and publishes it or reproduces it without the copyright owners consent, then they are liable and could by fined up to $150,000 for each violation.
WHAT CAN’T I DO?
A few examples of what is considered copyright infringement include: scanning photos, photocopying photos, screen captures of online images for the purposes of printing or web use, reproducing photos for yourself or others, etc.
Thank you in advance for adhering to these policies and respecting the value of our work.