Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Copyright vs. Personal Use Rights

Often, the question comes up as to whether a client will receive "the rights" to the wedding images on their DVD, so I thought I would take this opportunity to clear up just what that means exactly.

By law, the U.S. government recognizes and upholds that, unless otherwise assigned, copyright belongs exclusively to the creator of a work. What that means is that by the mere act of my pushing the shutter button on the camera, I am the sole owner of the copyright (i.e., ALL rights) of the images I create, regardless of who the image was taken for or whose likeness is depicted in the image. With that exclusive ownership comes the sole right under law for me to decide how those images are used.

BUT. You get a disk of images and what does that mean? If I have all the rights, what are YOU allowed to do with them?

In a nutshell, you are given Personal Use Rights. While other photographers may have different ideas of what you can do with their images (and are within their rights to grant whatever permissions they feel comfortable with), these are the conditions that I operate under: You are allowed to take your disk to your favorite photo lab and have prints made to your heart's content. You are allowed to copy the images onto your hard drive so you have a back-up copy. You are allowed to post the images to your personal website and on Facebook (with photo credit and tagging back to me).

What I do not allow is the following: You may not post images on a third-party website that sells images to the public. This includes Snapfish, Shutterfly, Dotphoto or any other website that would receive money for prints made from my work. You also may not give these images to other vendors who provided services at your wedding. I wholeheartedly welcome other vendors to use my images of items they provided for your wedding, but those vendors will need to obtain the images directly from me since my logo will need to be included. And, finally, the images may not be entered into contests or used for any other commercial purposes. Obviously, contests are designed to award compensation or accolades to the person whose talent and vision created the work, so that's an easy one, and commercial uses would include promoting a business through a marketing/advertising campaign and would fall under a different set of more restrictive (and expensive) rules.

Essentially though, while it sounds technical and all legal-like, you really do have all the rights you'll ever really need for enjoying your images to the fullest. And, as always, I welcome any questions about any policy I have so that we're all clear and on the same page!

Thanks for reading!

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