If, as photographers, we were asked what we considered to be our most valuable assets, it is likely that many of us would immediately think of our equipment that cost so much to purchase, or our image library which may well be a life’s work. While these are both natural and reasonable answers that many of us would make, we would be wrong.
The most valuable asset we have is something that has cost us absolutely nothing either in monetary terms or in effort. These are our photographers rights as enshrined in copyright law. Without these rights we would find it impossible to make a living as photographers, and anyone could take our images and use them without penalty or payment to us.
Today, in the digital age, and the world of the internet, our rights are under attack as never before. Images can be copied from the web, commercial concerns are increasingly pressing photographers to give up their rights, and many companies are indulging in unethical practices which remove rights by stealth from the naive and unwary.
It is important that all photographers of all levels of competence are aware of their rights and how to protect them. This applies to amateurs as well as to professionals.This section of the Pro-Imaging website does not pretend to be a precise definition of the law of copyright as applied in countries throughout the world. Copyright law is complex, subject to change, and in cases of infringement it will be necessary to employ the services of a lawyer who specialises in this field.
What this Photographers Rights section will do is to highlight the simple steps that all photographers can take to protect their copyright, such that should the need for legal action arise, by having taken all those precautions you will maximise your chances of winning legal action for copyright infringement. To find out more about the steps you can take click on the Protecting Rights link listed under Photographers Rights above.
The Campaigns section of our website will also highlight those organisations and business concerns who are indulging in practices which are in effect removing from photographers the rights they have been assigned by the law. Such practices are often indulged in by competition sponsors, media outlets, and social networking websites. To find out more about these topics click on the links under the Campaigns menu item.
We are fortunate that Edward C Greenberg, a highly regarded attorney from New York, who has defended photographer’s rights over many years now, has given Pro-Imaging permission to publish some of his articles. These contain a wealth of information written warning of the dangers of rights attacks by the world of big business, and how all photographers can take steps to defend themselves and their rights. This is a must read section of our Photographers Rights guide, and Mr Greenberg’s newsletters can be read here here.
Finally, you should realise that it is up to you to protect your copyright, no one else is going to do this for you! Be aware of your rights, check all terms and conditions before submitting images to anyone, make sure you are not signing your rights away, ensure that your terms and conditions assert your rights in plain simple language. Ensure that all your images, analogue or digital, carry your copyright notice. Failure to do any of these things can cost you dearly in lost income.
Now note this, if you need legal advice, consult a lawyer, particularly one who has experience in dealing with photography issues. Don’t depend on the assorted wisdom and anecdotes from other photographers, they specialise in photography, not the law. The advice may be well meant, but it is not reliable. If you need surgery you get advice from a surgeon, if you have a problem with your camera you consult a camera repair specialist because these are important matters to you; you need good advice and a good resolution. Legal issue are just as important, get your advice from a trained legal specialist.