“Whose Copyright Is It Anyway?”
Photographers have asked me that question on various occasions. Two of the most common times that this question is presented to me are:
- when a photographer is on the verge of a big project; and
- when a dispute arises between the photographer and his/her clients.
Generally, copyright belongs to the creator of the original work. In this instance the copyright would belong to the photographer as he/she is the creator of the photographs, assuming that the photograph in question is original.
However, like most other aspects in business, a photographer can contract away his/her copyright to the client. Often times, when a photographer engages in major projects, such as engagement and wedding photography, the client(s) want the copyright to the photos that are shot by the photographer. At that point, the photographer must decide whether or not it is worth his/her time, money, and/or reputation to contract away the copyright to the photos. Whatever the decision may be, the photographer must use a contract to avoid future liability or damages.
Avoid the urge to draft your own contract unless you’re an attorney. No matter how much research you conduct or how great of a sample contract you may obtain, there is no substitute for a custom-made contract drafted by an attorney. If you want to save money in the long-run, invest a small sum of money from the outset to protect your interests.
Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create any attorney-client relationship. This article expresses the personal views of the author and does not represent the views of the author’s clients.