Hey Jennifer, Why are you not giving me the copyright to my pictures?!
This is a very common question I get when people sign my contract. So I wanted to clear some things up for others who also have to sign a copyright on their contracts with other photographers. The thing is with the copyright the photographers can and may (depending on your agreement) give you digital copies of pictures to print as you wish (again this will also depend on what you agree with the photographer) BUT this does not mean YOU own the pictures.
This is usually how I break it down to people working with me personally. I don't sell prints usually. People can order prints through my website as they please but I usually allot so many digital images with the package that they choose. With this comes the printing rights to print said pictures, this does not mean you own the copyright to OWN these pictures. So the difference here is while you can "own" prints that you've purchased and hang on your wall you don't own the rights to use those pictures and sell them as if you took them. So let's say I take pictures of some birds, and an advertising company comes in and asked me if they can buy the copyright for that image, I sell them that image and they can print and sell it as they please. If I take a picture of you and do not sell you the copyright, you can print and share as you wish but you are not allowed to go make 100 prints and sell them and claim ownership of them.
I think the contract confuses people because they think why would I want to have services with you but then not be able to do anything with the pictures. I do give a print release with digital images, so if you go to a store and try and make prints and said company (as they should) will ask for the print release from the photographer. Sadly this isn't always the case so if you're saying this has never been asked of me, well thats sad, but thats just the way it works sometimes.
Photographers run into people stealing their images a lot, if you ever were to join any photographer group you would see that photographers are always talking about how businesses photography related or not, steal images from websites and use the images as their own. That breaks the copyright in the contract. This is illegal and wrong! So if you see a photographer using another photographers work claiming it as their own they could get into some serious trouble. It's not only against the law but it's awful that a person will hire you thinking they're getting that quality of work but they don't. Don't be that photographer, don't hire that photographer.
Not all photographer even allow for digital images because there is a lot of mishaps with that too. A copyright also doesn't allow a person to alter the image in any way. Which means you are not allowed to add a filter or edit the image and post it on your page. Not only does that not represent that photographers work but it's something you should discuss with your photographer on how you would like the images edited. There are a lot of photographers that edit certain ways, dark and moody, light and airy, portraits like glamour shot style (some of you may not know what I'm taking about and I'll just go feel old in the corner) so asking for light and airy from a photographer then editing it yourself dark and moody seems silly. Hire for your style type. Though if you hire a photographer and they advertise as dark and moody but edit light and airy bring it to them that their work didn't represent what they have done in the past.
Don't get me started on screenshots and cropping. We've all been there. I'll screenshot my own work from time to time because its easier than downloading but my watermark is on there and it's known it's MY work but some people screenshot then edit out the watermark and that is stealing! I take these things very personal because you're stealing my work. If you pay for a meal but walk to the kitchen and take 2 pieces of cake on your way out, it's still stealing.
Thank you for reading. Follow me on Facebook, if you're in Northern California and are in need of a photographer I can help you out!