Legal guidance to understanding copyright within a photography business

Starting up a photography business may present many aspects of difficulty, however knowing your legal rights will be sure to help you out.

First and foremost it is important to understand and establish the principle of copyright, as a form of protection of work. A photographer shall own the copyright to their images from the moment of creation. Ownership of the copyright will last for the life of the author plus a total of 70 years after that, as per the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988. This of course means that if the image is utilised without any authorisation, you could be entitled to compensation. Pictures are a form of an artistic work, and don’t hold the need for registration, within the UK, as copyright arises automatically. It is also important to note that ownership rights may differ, depending on who you work for, as companies can be entitled to partial or full ownership of the work, if the works are created as part of your employment.

For many professional photographers, dealing with copyright infringement is an ongoing problem. Although your work is protected as soon as its created, the creation and use of a copyright notice is never going to hinder your work, as it will demonstrate to all viewers that the work is indeed copyright protected. For instance, adding a watermark is an effective way to protect your work, which can be easily done though apps such as PhotoShop.

Another idea might be to upload your artistic work in a lower resolution, compared to what the image was shot in. If someone tries to utilise it, then the quality won’t be pristine, perhaps also encouraging less people to use it.

Now that your rights as a photographer are established, what rules must you ensure to follow? Permission can be a necessity on many occasions, such as seeking consent when taking images of people, as a matter of public policy. Permission for shooting on private land or at private events can also be required, and can be presented in the form of a permit, so research prior to your shoot is crucial.

Always get the permission, agreement or permit in writing. The terms need not be complicated, and are likely to vary depending upon different ventures, however topics such as duration of the contract, billing for additional equipment if necessary, and fees should usually be incorporated for self-protection.

If you have any copyright queries or would require our assistance with a certain matter, please get in touch with the Lawdit Team today.

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