Pro Imaging launched in 2004 as the result of three photographers’ strong belief in a simple need:
A self-support group for full time professional photographers, helping each other to solve problems arising from running a professional photographic business.
Twelve years on, and with a membership extending to more than thirty countries, we have broadened out and now offer members much more.
The active promotion of members to potential clients through the member’s gallery. Each member has the opportunity of having their own gallery page or pages showcasing their work.
A private and secure e-mail discussion list where we discuss every aspect and problem to do with the running of a photography business in almost real time 24/7. Members range from top flight internationally known photographers, to studio owners employing dozens of staff, right through to the sole general practitioner. We all have one thing in common, the desire to help each other in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
Pro Imaging fights on behalf of the members interests and already has had a number of notable successes. Join this vibrant and successful group, by going to the join section. Read the information there and then complete the registration form. We do check the standard of work of every applicant wishing to join Pro Imaging, however this should not present a problem for most competent professionals.
Pro Imaging is a not-for-profit organisation. All our income is spent in promoting members, running and developing Pro Imaging, fighting for the rights of members and running campaigns. We have no paid employees and the whole management team give their time for free.
Membership is open to all professional image-makers earning at least 80% of their income from professional imaging. We vet every applicant and endeavour to ensure only bona fide full time workers join who can demonstrate a professional level of competence. If in doubt over your eligibility please contact us.
- List messages are private. Information posted by members must not be disclosed to non members without first obtaining the written authority of the author of that information.
- This is an unmoderated list. Members are expected to behave in a polite and considerate manner and to take full responsibility for everything they post.
- Keep your posts lean. Accurate subject lines; minimal quotes; minimal signatures; no disclaimers. Top posting is also discouraged.
- Ensure your posts identify you by your first and second name.
- Any member found to have engaged in professional misconduct or conduct that could bring Pro Imaging into disrepute will have their membership terminated.
Failure to observe these rules will result in your removal from Pro Imaging and you will not be re-admitted. Refunds will not be made in this situation.
Completing the membership application form assumes your full acceptance of the above rules.
NOT SURE about joining PI?
Complete the application form and if successful you may have a 30-day free trial of the discussion forum. You will receive postings and be able to take an active part in the discussions, but will not be allowed you access to the member part of the web site. Once you’ve paid your annual subscription, you have a 60 day, full money-back period if you wish to leave PI.
Membership runs from June 1st. If you join after 1st January fees are reduced by 50%
£42.00 Members – entitled to one promotional gallery page of 1MB
£15.00 Retired members – no gallery page
£15.00 For each additional MB of gallery space
NOTE: Please DO NOT make any payments before your membership has been approved!
Back in 2004, three professional image makers – Richard Kenward, Steve Climpson & Martin Orpen – launched a very different discussion list. It was different in that only full-time, professional photographers and selected professionals such as web designers, graphic designers, etc., would be able to join. We now have members in many countries.
Every member is checked for their full-time status and ability before being allowed to join. This is to keep the membership and the discussions to a high standard. The idea being that, as professionals, we all had valuable experience and know-how to offer and by every member “pooling” their knowledge we would all be in a stronger position to succeed in an ever changing and demanding market place.
At the heart of PI is the discussion forum where any topic that has something to do with the running of a photographic business is discussed and valuable help is provided 24/7.
What started out as a simple discussion list quickly developed well beyond this because we found ourselves in situations where we could make a real difference if we got involved, so we did!
Recent campaigns have involved Orphan Works and Copyright legislation. A long running campaign we started and nurture is the Artist bill of Rights campaign. This aims to reduce the number of poor photo competitions attempting to ‘collect’ photographers images for nothing or next to nothing.
Our campaigning has been good for members because we have been able to change attitudes and policies and it’s also resulted in our message being heard far and wide.
The very modest annual membership fee funds the running of PI, which includes the promotion of our members, the all important campaigns and future developments. Because we do not take advertising or sponsorship we are able to say exactly what needs saying to the industry movers and shakers.
Join us and make a difference to your business and the photography industry.
Our Most Valuable Asset
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.
Rights Under Attack
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.
Defending Your Rights
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.
Copyright law is very complex, and with regard to photographs it can be especially complex. Additionally, it is continually evolving through new laws being passed by national governments, the European Union directives, changes to the Berne Convention for the protection of Literary and Artistic Works, and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This article can only provide an outline of copyright as law as it applies to photographs, and none of the statements herein should be read as a definitive legal advice. This article is based primarily on UK legislation, but certain differences with US legislation are noted. In the section entitled “Copyright Law around the World”, there are links to authoritative websites that deal with copyright in other countries. However, a citizen of any country may read this article and gain a basic understanding of the purposes of copyright law, then refer to his own country’s copyright office for further detail.
We offer our articles simply as an introduction to copyright law, they are not an authoritative statement of the law. If you have a copyright problem you are advised to obtain legal advice from a lawyer who specialises in intellectual property cases.
Copyright – The Right to Economic Benefit
Copyright law gives photographers rights with regard to the photographs they create, to protect these photographs against unauthorised reproduction by others, and to entitle the photographer to the economic benefits of licensing their work for use. Without such rights enshrined in law it would be difficult if not impossible to make a living as a photographer.
As a photographer, you have the following exclusive rights with regard to photographs you have created –
- The right to reproduce the photograph
- The right to distribute copies of the photograph to the public
- The right to rent or lend the work to the public
- The right to broadcast the work to the public
- The right to make an adaption of your image
As the copyright owner you can authorise others to perform any of the above.
Copyright in a work is infringed by a person who without the license of the copyright owner, does, or authorises another to do, any of the above acts restricted by the copyright.
Copyright is automatically granted as soon as the photograph has been created. You do not need to register a photograph for it to have copyright. In the UK there is no public authority with which to register photographs, but there is in the USA. Even in the USA it is not essential to register a photograph for it to be protected by copyright. However, it is of great advantage to do so should you need to go to court, as it could result in increased damages and recovery of lawyers fees.
Note that you can waive your rights, you can give them to someone else, or you can just lose them by not reading carefully the terms and conditions of any contracts you may be required to sign, or be required to agree to in a web-based agreement. It is your responsibility to protect your rights. Never give them away. Read all terms and conditions carefully for any agreements you are being asked to accept. Check specifically what the agreement says about copyright and what it allows the other party to do with the images. If you don’t understand the agreement, don’t accept it.
As soon as you create an image, you are the ‘first owner’ of copyright and this gives you a whole set of exclusive rights as explained above in ‘Copyright – The Right To Economic Benefit’, of which one of the most of important from the point of view of making a living, is that you, and you alone, have the exclusive right to license the image for use, and set the terms and conditions of such usage. No one else has these rights, only you, this is what the law freely gives you, the creator of the image.
You have used your intellect, skill, experience, and your own unique sense of artistry to create a superb image. It is right and proper that the law should guard you from those who, not having a fraction of your creativity, experience, or skill, could freely use your work at no cost to themselves if it were not for the protection offered by copyright law. Many, many organisations wish to acquire copyright from you because it is a very profitable thing to own.
Some, the thieves and cheats of this world will just take your images and use them without a by your leave. They just take a chance that you will never find out, and maybe you never will. However, in the world of business more subtle methods are used to separate you and your copyright. Big Business generally speaking does not want to be seen operating outside of the law, so they have teams of lawyers using subtle, but often invalid, devices to take your copyright away from you, yes, I mean you. If you are naive and unwary your copyright can be gone and you are none the wiser until it’s too late.
However, you, as the copyright owner, also have the right to assign your copyright to another person or body, either for the full legal duration of the copyright, or for just a portion of it, say 2 years. This gives the other person or body that you have assigned the copyright to the same exclusive rights that you, as the first owner, had, but have now lost because you have assigned them to someone else.
It is hard to imagine many circumstances when you would willingly assign copyright to another unless it was for a very large sum of money, or on your death it is bequeathed to someone else so that they can benefit from the copyright.
It would be a foolish thing to do, but the law permits you to do this foolish thing, both in the U.K. and the U.S., perhaps other countries too, providing you sign a written agreement saying that you wish to be foolish and give your copyright to someone else. The agreement must be written, and must be signed.
Claims on a purchase order, or any bit of paper for that matter, that are not signed by the assignor are invalid and unenforceable in law. Also claims on a website that by entering or submitting this or that you are agreeing to give your copyright away are also invalid.
Now that you know this, you won’t be foolish, will you?
Now note this, you can bequeath your copyright to another person or body, such that on your death, they will own the copyright and continue to benefit from licensing the images for 70 years after your death. This is an important asset for your family and the continuance of your business, and this is the one circumstance in which it is very wise to assign, or to be correct in this case, bequeath, your copyright to another person or body. As before it has to be a written agreement, as in a will, and signed by the assignor.
Moral Rights are a basic human right and are part of the law of copyright to ensure that the photographer is rightfully acknowledged as the creator of their images.
There are four moral rights
The right to be credited.
This is the photographer’s right to have their name appear with the photograph on every occasion it is published, exhibited, broadcasted, or appears in a film. There is however a long list of exceptions, such as when an image is used for the reporting of news events, publishing in encyclopedias, use in parliamentary or judicial proceedings, etc.
In UK law the photographer must clearly assert this right in writing on every film, print, and digital image put into circulation before this law can be applied. Simply adding the copyright symbol, year of creation and photographers name is not enough to be recognised as an assertion of this right in UK law, although the law does not specify in what form the assertion should appear. The Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS UK) suggest using this form of words to assert your moral right to be credited –
“I, ‘name’, hereby asserts his/her moral right to be identified as the photographer of ‘Title of Work’ in accordance with The Copyright Designs and Patents Act of 1988.”
The right to object to derogatory treatment of a work.
This right gives the photographer the legal right to object to mistreatment of his image in a way that is “prejudicial to the honour and reputation of the photographer.” This right does not need to be asserted in UK law.
The right not to have a work falsely attributed to another photographer.
This right belongs to everyone, not just the creator of a photograph. It could be used to defend against a case of an unscrupulous publisher using the name of a prestigious photographer to add credibility to the images in the publication, that the named photographer never took. The photographer has the right to a legal remedy in such cases.
The right to privacy in respect of certain photographs and films.
This right applies to everyone, not just photographers. There is no UK right of privacy, but in France for example the privacy laws are very strict. Although moral rights apply in most countries, interpretation can vary greatly between them as in this specific case. For absolute safety, if you have photographs featuring people, then for complete protection you must ensure you have signed model release forms that permit you to use the images without restrictions.
The right to control duration of and waiving of Moral Rights
Note that unlike copyright, your moral rights cannot be assigned to anyone else. They are yours and yours alone. You may, by a written and signed agreement, with another specific person or body, waive your moral rights for specific images. Such an agreement is called a waiver. So even if you have assigned copyright to another person or body, you can still enforce your moral rights, unless you have also signed a waiver with that person or body, in which case you have lost the right to enforce your moral rights against that person or body.
All moral rights continue to be in force for the creator of an image for as long as the copyright remains in force in an image, except the right not to have a work falsely attributed, which only exists for a period of 20 years after the photographers death in the U.K.
If it is necessary to proceed to the courts to process a case of copyright infringement, you must be able to show both that you created the work, and that the date of creation of your work is before the date of creation of the alleged copy. Metadata may be helpful, but since such data is open to manipulation such data will not be considered by the courts as probative.
There are many suggestions on ways of proving the date of creation, amongst which are –
- Mailing a copy of the work in a sealed envelope and posting it to yourself by registered post, and leaving it sealed upon receipt by yourself.
- Leaving copies with a solicitor or other agent
- Using one of the copyright registration agencies that are available.
With regard to the last item, note that in the UK the registration agencies are private agencies, unlike the system in the United States (see below) where the registration of photographs is dealt with by the US Copyright Office (USCO), an official public body whose evidence would carry much more weight in a court of law.
Full details of this procedure are available at The U.S. Copyright Office website, click on the Copyright Basics heading and follow the links to the registration chapters. Registering copyright in the U.S. is not mandatory, but it has some clear advantages. It can provide absolute proof of the existence of the work and date of creation/publication. For works of U.S origin an infringement may not be filed in court unless the work has been registered.
Recent court opinions has mandated that registration is made before publication of the work. Under US law, statutory damages and appropriate attorney’s fees may be available to the copyright owner in federal court actions. On the legislative agenda is the CASE Act, which would allow for a small claims court for to address minor copyright infringements.
Further advice on registration in the U.S. for photographs not of U.S origin is being prepared and will be published here at a later date. In the meantime follow the links given above for full and definitive statements of the law in the U.S. with regard to registration.