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I had someone ask me about watermark of copyright on my final prints. This had never come up before so I did a search and found 2 really post from blogs by fellow photographers. I will post the second one later this week.

This is from Photographer Sara Dickerson!

Re-Post from Sara Dickerson Photography

The past few days, copyrights, stolen images and print rights have been a hot topic of discussion among local photographers. I find that few consumers truly understand copyright and print rights and when they can and cannot reproduce an image. I hope this post will educate a bit on this topic.

Most of my portrait clients purchase a disc of at least a few of the images from their sessions, and my wedding packages all include a disc of high resolution, edited images. Unless the client chooses not to, I always blog highlights from sessions where the client is going to be receiving images on disc, and allow these clients to use their “sneak peek” images on Facebook, with watermark intact, since they have purchased the full-resolution images that will be coming later on disc. I actually enjoy the excitement that comes with sharing around their preview images. The operative word here is “purchased” – the clients in this case have paid for images on disc already.

These clients receive a print release with their discs. This is NOT a copyright release and this is a term I hear bantered around by clients (and usually prospective clients when inquiring if they get a “copyright release” with their discs) incorrectly. What is the difference? A print release specifically states, in my case, that the client may print the images, design an album with their images, and share them online with friends or on personal websites. The images are NOT for commercial use. A simple way of thinking of it may be as a “shared copyright” of sorts. Why not a copyright release?

A copyright release turns over ALL rights to the images to the client. This means I no longer own any stake in the images that I took, and I have no permission to use them on my website, on prints or in albums in studio. Obviously, as photographers we gain new business by showing….our work! If we turned over copyright to our clients, we would no longer have work to show because we would not own any of our work. Purchasing full copyright to images is MUCH different than purchasing print rights to images, and would come with a pretty hefty price tag. (Think of purchasing the copyright to a song vs. rights to play it!) I hear a lot of fairly new photographers throwing around the term ‘copyright release’ as well, and I hope this post educates at least a couple of them a bit as it can put you in a pickle if you don’t watch your legalese!

Why does this matter to me, the photographer, you ask? I mean, most of my clients get the image on disc, with printing rights, so what is my concern? I have two. The first is usage of web-resolution images for printing. I realize clients get SUPER excited about getting prints on hand from their wedding or portrait session. However, the images posted to my blog are NOT optimized for printing (and are watermarked). The image quality of the final product will be subpar, and of course being an angst-ridden artist (ha!) I want my work displayed at its best. And the images of YOU displayed at their best! If you just can’t wait to get your hands on one of the images, and you’ve purchased a disc from me, just send me an email and I’d be happy to send that particular image along for your use, in full resolution with the proper print release.

The second and biggest thing that affects us as photographers concerns stealing of unpurchased images, and this is where I’m going to spend most of my time here today. As a former event (horse show) photographer, this is a huge issue and has become so widespread that many photographers have had to seek income elsewhere (such as weddings) or have closed shop altogether. Event photographers are hardly ever paid by the event to be present. When I shot shows, I had to front my gas, meals, and hotel in hopes that a lot of exhibitors would buy prints or files from me. How disheartening to spend this money, then go home and see that some of these exhibitors had either a) taken an iPhone image of the proofing screen at my ordering station at the show and posted it, or b) had done a screen capture of the image on my online proofing site. If you have not purchased an image from your photographer, and you do this, you are stealing. There’s no kinder way to put it – it’s stealing and it’s also copyright infringement. Yes, the photo is of you, or your daughter, or other family member – but the photographer was contracted to cover the event by event management, or in the case of a portrait session, hired by you to shoot – and retains copyright to the images created. We all work hard to pay our bills, right? Well, photographers choose photography as a way to earn a living, and our livelihoods depend on being compensated fairly for our work. Our long hard hours on our feet, time away from our families, and expense incurred photographing the client. Whether you were an exhibitor at a horse show, a parent at a softball game that had a photographer present, or a portrait client who had a session done but has not purchased prints or files, you MUST have purchased the image to use it online.

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Hopefully this helped clients understand the differences between print and copyright releases, and when it is and is not legal to print an image or share an image online. The bottom line is – if you have a question about whether you can or cannot do something with a professionally-shot image, ask. And if you’ve not purchased an image (or disc of images) but wish to share it online, most photographers will sell a web-resolution image for  a small fee for you to use on Facebook or your personal website.

Sara Dickerson Photography