Forums > Photography Talk > wedding photos + copyright

Model

Deadlynightshade

Posts: 4774

Los Angeles, California, US

Hey everyone

Quick question.... I'm negotiating photographing a wedding and I've agreed to give them all the images shot... The client wants copyright of all the images as well.

If I give them copyright could I be screwing myself in the future? For instance if I use the images on my website? Would it be better for me to not give them copyright?

Otherwise, would it be wise to charge extra for a copyright?

Nov 25 12 01:45 pm Link

Photographer

Kyle Burnell

Posts: 104

South Berwick, Maine, US

They probably want printing/usage rights not copyright. You may want to check with them for clarification. If they want you to sign over copyright so that you have no rights to use the photos you can charge them whatever you feel is appropriate compensation.

Have you shot a wedding before?

Nov 25 12 01:54 pm Link

Photographer

Paul AI

Posts: 1046

Shawnee, Oklahoma, US

Deadlynightshade wrote:
Hey everyone

Quick question.... I'm negotiating photographing a wedding and I've agreed to give them all the images shot... The client wants copyright of all the images as well.

If I give them copyright could I be screwing myself in the future? For instance if I use the images on my website? Would it be better for me to not give them copyright?

Otherwise, would it be wise to charge extra for a copyright?

Are they wanting the copyright or a print release?  I've never had a client ask for an all-out copyright transfer, but have had quit a few ask about print releases.

Nov 25 12 01:55 pm Link

Photographer

SPierce Photography

Posts: 19791

Amherst, Massachusetts, US

Kyle Burnell wrote:
They probably want printing/usage rights not copyright. You may want to check with them for clarification. If they want you to sign over copyright so that you have no rights to use the photos you can charge them whatever you feel is appropriate compensation.

Have you shot a wedding before?

This... part of my wedding contract says that I retain full copyright/ownership, but will give them a personal useage release. No matter how the wedding ends up working out, have it in a contract! all of it !

Nov 25 12 01:56 pm Link

Model

Deadlynightshade

Posts: 4774

Los Angeles, California, US

SPierce Photography wrote:

This... part of my wedding contract says that I retain full copyright/ownership, but will give them a personal useage release. No matter how the wedding ends up working out, have it in a contract! all of it !

Would you be willing to send me the release you use?

A contract is definitely essential....

Nov 25 12 02:06 pm Link

Photographer

redbanana

Posts: 777

Lexington, Kentucky, US

Deadlynightshade wrote:
Hey everyone

Quick question.... I'm negotiating photographing a wedding and I've agreed to give them all the images shot... The client wants copyright of all the images as well.

If I give them copyright could I be screwing myself in the future? For instance if I use the images on my website? Would it be better for me to not give them copyright?

Otherwise, would it be wise to charge extra for a copyright?

Not to tell you how to do business but I would never give a client ALL images shot. Unless you think you can nail every single shot. It is always best to put your very best work out for people to see. If you are going to do this then after uploading the images go through and weed out the crappy shots. Then rename all the files so they won't notice a number sequence being changed.

Make sure you have a contract no matter who they are things could get ugly or if things aren't outlined they could try to take advantage of you.

Nov 25 12 02:07 pm Link

Model

Deadlynightshade

Posts: 4774

Los Angeles, California, US

Kyle Burnell wrote:
They probably want printing/usage rights not copyright. You may want to check with them for clarification. If they want you to sign over copyright so that you have no rights to use the photos you can charge them whatever you feel is appropriate compensation.

Have you shot a wedding before?

No, I'm new to photography but have done some paid jobs before....

Nov 25 12 02:08 pm Link

Model

Deadlynightshade

Posts: 4774

Los Angeles, California, US

Ok for those of you who called it, they meant usage rights, not copyright.

I believe to mean that they can print them out at costco or walgreens (which requires a release from photog to do so)

So on that note, how to proceed?

By the way, I super appreciate everyone's help... lot of people I know do not want to help me and do not want me to succeed...

Nov 25 12 02:11 pm Link

Photographer

C h a r l e s D

Posts: 9304

Los Angeles, California, US

What's he paying you?

Don't give him the copyright for some discounted rate because this is your first wedding.

Oh, usage?  Sure.  It's his wedding.  Let him use them however he pleases.

The thing is, a bunch of income for wedding photographers is printing the shots for the married couple in different packages for X amount of dollars.  If you're fine with the original shooting fee, let him print.

Best of luck to you!  Do shitloads of research, and try to take a few shots at the venues before the wedding so you know exposures, etc.  Even if the bride and groom say it's a no stress wedding, the only thing they have to remember their special day is your professional photographs, and Uncle Joe's shots.  Weddings can be incredibly stressful.  By giving him the files after the wedding, you'll save possibly hundreds of hours of post work. 
People bitch about the cost of wedding photographers, but the good ones are worth their weight in gold!  It doesn't end at the end of the reception.  That's just the beginning.  Many, many days and hours of editing/retouching can be required. 
By letting him print the files and editing to his hearts content, you'll save lots of time and possible stress.

Wedding photographers have to wear many hats.  You need to control the timing a bit if you ever want to get out of there.

Nov 25 12 02:12 pm Link

Photographer

redbanana

Posts: 777

Lexington, Kentucky, US

Deadlynightshade wrote:
Ok for those of you who called it, they meant usage rights, not copyright.

I believe to mean that they can print them out at costco or walgreens (which requires a release from photog to do so)

So on that note, how to proceed?

By the way, I super appreciate everyone's help... lot of people I know do not want to help me and do not want me to succeed...

I'm not near my computer but search the web for wedding contracts. Mine has a print release written into the contract.

Nov 25 12 02:16 pm Link

Photographer

ACPhotography

Posts: 8622

Plainview, New York, US

Hope your insurance is up to date too...

Nov 25 12 02:23 pm Link

Photographer

GCobb Photography

Posts: 15894

Southaven, Mississippi, US

Okay, usage is fine.  If you give them image files and they take it to Walgreens or such place, they may not be able to print them without a written license from you.  That's pretty common.

The reason they want the CD with all the images is so they can believe they'll get to print as many as they want.  What I do is either give them a price on any images on the CD or I raise the rates up on my prints to compensate for any revenue I may not be getting.

As for "all" the images, I don't do that.  In the rare event that I give them a copy of everything that turned out, I format them and batch process them for a 4x6.  But I go through the images and remove any that were obvious failures.  I had someone purchase 400 from me after the fact.  They paid a flat rate.

So I'd really consider how I wanted to deal with that and put it in writing.

As for not shooting a wedding, I'd spend a LOT of time with someone who has.  You need an extra everything, a plan B for anything that could go wrong and an attention to detail that's unbeatable to say the least.

Nov 25 12 02:24 pm Link

Photographer

GCobb Photography

Posts: 15894

Southaven, Mississippi, US

ACPhotography wrote:
Hope your insurance is up to date too...

You're ASSuming every beginner/hobby photographer has insurance.

Nov 25 12 02:26 pm Link

Photographer

ontherocks

Posts: 22615

Salem, Oregon, US

we tell them we retain copyright but they will get a usage license on the CD that lets them make their own prints, albums, etc.

if they really want a copyright transfer then maybe start by saying that would be extra and often that's the end of it (nobody wants to pay extra anymore).

make sure you have a good contract. we got one from here:
http://www.photoattorney.com/?page_id=579

Nov 25 12 03:00 pm Link

Model

Deadlynightshade

Posts: 4774

Los Angeles, California, US

GCobb Photography wrote:
As for not shooting a wedding, I'd spend a LOT of time with someone who has.  You need an extra everything, a plan B for anything that could go wrong and an attention to detail that's unbeatable to say the least.

Yeah this was a thought at the forefront of my mind...  it's more than just clicking images, and not sure I'm comfortable with the whole thing....

Nov 25 12 03:01 pm Link

Photographer

ontherocks

Posts: 22615

Salem, Oregon, US

i have nightmares about weddings. there's so much that happens on the day and it's so easy to screw it up especially when working in nasty dark places like churches. you really need to know how to control your flash (but usually they won't let you use it during the actual ceremony but often you can use it for folks walking down the aisle and back up) and shoot flashless in the dark (fast lenses, high ISO body) and react to changing light (like if the bride is exiting a car and walking toward the church in bright light and suddenly in the church it's dark).

hire an experienced 2nd shooter who can save the day if you freak. that's what we did anyway for our first two and we're busy processing our 4th one.

Deadlynightshade wrote:
Yeah this was a thought at the forefront of my mind...  it's more than just clicking images, and not sure I'm comfortable with the whole thing....

Nov 25 12 03:04 pm Link

Photographer

Andrew Thomas Evans

Posts: 24078

Minneapolis, Minnesota, US

Deadlynightshade wrote:
Hey everyone

Quick question.... I'm negotiating photographing a wedding and I've agreed to give them all the images shot... The client wants copyright of all the images as well.

If I give them copyright could I be screwing myself in the future? For instance if I use the images on my website? Would it be better for me to not give them copyright?

Otherwise, would it be wise to charge extra for a copyright?

What are these photos really worth in the future? More than likely you're not going to sell them, it doesn't sound like they are getting prints though you, and it's not sounding like they are a anyone famous. So, since you're starting with weddings, and already agreed to give them all the shots, why not throw in a "shared" copyright statement - with permission for the clients to print your images, and you to use them on your website.

Yes, that could be said a more traditional and correct way, but it doesn't sound like the client knows much, and it also doesn't sound like you know much yet. So I'd just roll with it, get some money, do your best, and learn from this for next time.



Andrew Thomas Evans
www.andrewthomasevans.com

Nov 25 12 03:17 pm Link

Photographer

SPierce Photography

Posts: 19791

Amherst, Massachusetts, US

Deadlynightshade wrote:

Yeah this was a thought at the forefront of my mind...  it's more than just clicking images, and not sure I'm comfortable with the whole thing....

When's the wedding taking place? have you checked with the church to see what their policy on flashes are? got a list of wishful moments and shots from the bride and groom (or bride and bride/groom and groom)?

Nov 25 12 03:29 pm Link

Photographer

MC Photo

Posts: 4144

New York, New York, US

Deadlynightshade wrote:
Hey everyone

Quick question.... I'm negotiating photographing a wedding and I've agreed to give them all the images shot... The client wants copyright of all the images as well.

If I give them copyright could I be screwing myself in the future? For instance if I use the images on my website? Would it be better for me to not give them copyright?

Otherwise, would it be wise to charge extra for a copyright?

Unrestricted usage rights and copyright are the same thing.

If you gave them the copyright and took an unrestricted usage agreement for yourself it would be the same thing.

If you have a corporation, I'm pretty sure that you could grant your corporation an irrevocable unrestricted usage license and then transfer the copyright to someone else without voiding that license.

Assuming that's possible it should also be possible to grant one to yourself before transferring the copyright.

This may be a little shady because if they had a lawyer draft an agreement to purchase the copyright there would probably be wording about disclosing this or warranting that no one else has claim to ownership of the images. Since the intent may be about controlling use, not disclosing the license is questionable. If the request for copyright is because they don't want to be extorted for prints later or tied to bad post or a watermark, then it's not a big deal,  but you could also put usage terms in the copyright agreement.

Nov 25 12 03:29 pm Link

Photographer

MC Photo

Posts: 4144

New York, New York, US

Deadlynightshade wrote:
Ok for those of you who called it, they meant usage rights, not copyright.

I believe to mean that they can print them out at costco or walgreens (which requires a release from photog to do so)

So on that note, how to proceed?

By the way, I super appreciate everyone's help... lot of people I know do not want to help me and do not want me to succeed...

Do you want the job at the discussed rate? If yes, then you have to give them what they ask for.

There's nothing stopping you from doing some editing on spec after and then selling them that work too.

Nov 25 12 03:33 pm Link

Photographer

ACPhotography

Posts: 8622

Plainview, New York, US

Deadlynightshade wrote:

Yeah this was a thought at the forefront of my mind...  it's more than just clicking images, and not sure I'm comfortable with the whole thing....

No, because once you negotiate a contract you're now a pro... Falling light stands, missing important shots, etc doesn't matter if you've done 1 or a 1000...

Nov 25 12 04:12 pm Link

Photographer

GCobb Photography

Posts: 15894

Southaven, Mississippi, US

Deadlynightshade wrote:

Yeah this was a thought at the forefront of my mind...  it's more than just clicking images, and not sure I'm comfortable with the whole thing....

There isn't a lot of worthy input in this thread right now.  There is a shot list, contract, need to show up before the wedding to see what you have to deal with, whether the minister allows a flash, what ambient lighting you have to work with, where they walk in and out, what shots they prefer, whether you need multiple lights...and the list just goes on.

The short end of it is this: I don't shoot weddings for good friends or family.  And if you screw up something, you're liable and you can't reshoot the wedding next weekend.

Hire an experienced wedding photographer to work with you as a second shooter.

Nov 25 12 04:17 pm Link

Photographer

Photography by Riddell

Posts: 654

Hemel Hempstead, England, United Kingdom

As others have said, they don't need the copyright.

Quite honestly this issue with people asking for it has only occurred over the last couple of years because so many amateur photographers have no idea what they are doing and tell customers that they will give them the copyright or give images copyright free.

Both are totally stupid.

Images need to be licenced, even if it is an open licence such as pretty much allowing them to print as they want.

Nov 26 12 02:31 am Link

Photographer

Richie Rich B

Posts: 1521

Largo, Florida, US

Might be a good time to find a local wedding photographer and offer to 2nd shoot with them a few times before you shoot your wedding. Also ask if they have a contract they would share. Also sending you a PM and I'm happy to email you mine (which may or may not fly in Arizona).

Nov 26 12 03:26 am Link

Photographer

Photography by Riddell

Posts: 654

Hemel Hempstead, England, United Kingdom

Also surely you are just giving them the good ones? Not all of them?

Nov 26 12 04:21 am Link

Photographer

Michael Fryd

Posts: 3893

Miami Beach, Florida, US

MC Photo wrote:
Unrestricted usage rights and copyright are the same thing.
...

A transfer of copyright has some similarities to an Unrestricted usage license, but there are many significant differences.  They are not interchangeable.

They are similar in that once executed, the photographer may no longer be entitled to additional revenue for the client's use of the images.


Perhaps the most important difference is exclusivity.  If the photographer transfers copyright, then the client has exclusive control over copyright issues.  The photographer can no longer give permission to reproduce or otherwise  license/sell the images.  If a wedding guest wanted a print, the photographer would need the copyright owner's permission to make that print.  In fact the photographer would need permission from the client to make any new copies (or to place them on the web). 


Another issue is enforcement.  Should someone use the images without permission, the copyright holder is the one who can go after them.  If the photographer transfers copyright, then he can no longer enforce copyright.

There are numerous other issues as well, including how long the copyright will last.


A common misconception is that by retaining copyright the photographer may use the images on his web site.  This is not always true. Depending on your state, using the images on your web site to promote your business may require a model release from all identifiable people in the images.   

A release from the bride and groom is usually not sufficient as they don't have the legal right to give you a release for their guests.  In some states the release must be in writing and be from the pictured individuals.

Nov 26 12 04:48 am Link

Photographer

Kaouthia

Posts: 3152

Lancaster, England, United Kingdom

Deadlynightshade wrote:
I believe to mean that they can print them out at costco or walgreens (which requires a release from photog to do so)

So on that note, how to proceed?

Explain to them that you can do that, but a blanket license for all images is probably going to work out more expensive than buying the prints from you in the first place, and you can't guarantee the print quality or colour accuracy of prints over which you have no control.

Not for weddings (I don't do weddings), but when I've had people request similar in the past, I sometimes given them one image, and suggest they go print that out at their local place they were going to use, and I'll go and do the same, so they can compare.

When they're side by side, they see an obvious difference in the print quality, contrast, colour and detail and are happy to buy their prints from me.

Nov 26 12 05:20 am Link

Photographer

Mike Collins

Posts: 1923

Orlando, Florida, US

Whenever you give someone the copyright, YOU no longer own the images.  Meaning if afterwards YOU wanted to use them, YOU would have to ask THEM permission to use them.  This is a reason you never do that. 

And it may not be the business model for a lot but shoot and burn weddings are very popular today.  Images in digital form have more value than prints.  So as long as your charging enough to make it profitable for you, there is nothing wrong with it.   So, IMHO, you can either embrace it and make it work for you.  Or watch as your business slowly dwindles down.

Nov 26 12 06:08 am Link

Photographer

Jay Farrell

Posts: 13142

Nashville, Tennessee, US

It takes a wise person to know they have more to learn before diving into something over their head, kudos to you for that! Better to learn those fundamentals of the business and assist / second shoot before placing yourself in the shoes of a pro, especially a wedding or commercial photographer. Understanding pricing, usage, etc. is all part of doing business right...good luck smile

Nov 26 12 06:09 pm Link

Photographer

MC Photo

Posts: 4144

New York, New York, US

Michael Fryd wrote:

A transfer of copyright has some similarities to an Unrestricted usage license, but there are many significant differences.  They are not interchangeable.

They are similar in that once executed, the photographer may no longer be entitled to additional revenue for the client's use of the images.


Perhaps the most important difference is exclusivity.  If the photographer transfers copyright, then the client has exclusive control over copyright issues.  The photographer can no longer give permission to reproduce or otherwise  license/sell the images.  If a wedding guest wanted a print, the photographer would need the copyright owner's permission to make that print.  In fact the photographer would need permission from the client to make any new copies (or to place them on the web). 


Another issue is enforcement.  Should someone use the images without permission, the copyright holder is the one who can go after them.  If the photographer transfers copyright, then he can no longer enforce copyright.

There are numerous other issues as well, including how long the copyright will last.


A common misconception is that by retaining copyright the photographer may use the images on his web site.  This is not always true. Depending on your state, using the images on your web site to promote your business may require a model release from all identifiable people in the images.   

A release from the bride and groom is usually not sufficient as they don't have the legal right to give you a release for their guests.  In some states the release must be in writing and be from the pictured individuals.

If there are no restrictions, there are no restrictions and the photographer can resell the images identically to if they held the copyright. It has to been written in to prevent that.

The part about defending the copyright is true, but with 40,000 per minute being uploaded to Facebook, then Flickr, Tumblr and all of the other places, the odds of having a problems with someone's wedding photo is very very low.

Nov 26 12 08:49 pm Link

Photographer

Michael Fryd

Posts: 3893

Miami Beach, Florida, US

MC Photo wrote:

If there are no restrictions, there are no restrictions and the photographer can resell the images identically to if they held the copyright. It has to been written in to prevent that.

The part about defending the copyright is true, but with 40,000 per minute being uploaded to Facebook, then Flickr, Tumblr and all of the other places, the odds of having a problems with someone's wedding photo is very very low.

There are numerous ways in which an unrestricted usage license can be written.  If it is an assignable license, then the client may be able to relicense others to use the images.  If it is not assignable/transferable, then the client can use the images, but can't license others to use the images.


A transfer of copyright is legally very different.  In a copyright transfer, the photographer is not licensing the images, but is transferring ownership of the copyright.  After the transfer, only the client can license the images, not the photographer.  If the photographer wanted to use the images, he has no special status.  He would need a license just like any other photographer.   The photographer would probably not be able to further license the images to others. 

You could attempt to address this by executing the copyright transfer, and then a license from the client to the photographer.   This is is more complicated than allowing the copyright to stay with the photographer, and then giving the client an unlimited license.



The bottom line is that in addition to usage rights, the copyright holder has the right to grant usage licenses and the right to enforce copyright.  If the photographer retains copyright and gives the client an unlimited usage license, the photographer likely still has the right to grant usage licenses to others (and the client likely doesn't have that right).  if the photographer transfers copyright, he no longer has the right to grant usage licenses, and this includes a usage license to himself.


Of course, the photographer has the option of putting the images into the "public domain".  In which case the images are no longer copyrighted.  Thus no usage license would be needed by anyone.  Of course "public domain" only address copyright issues.  Many uses of the images would still require a model release.


Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and this is simply my general understanding.  Always consult an attorney for reliable legal advice.

Nov 27 12 03:43 am Link

Photographer

Albertex Photography

Posts: 15415

Mansfield, Texas, US

GCobb Photography wrote:
As for not shooting a wedding, I'd spend a LOT of time with someone who has.  You need an extra everything, a plan B for anything that could go wrong and an attention to detail that's unbeatable to say the least.

Deadlynightshade wrote:
Yeah this was a thought at the forefront of my mind...  it's more than just clicking images, and not sure I'm comfortable with the whole thing....

I have shot weddings for 30 years.  I wrote this a couple of years ago for another forum but I have posted it here several times. 
Rule #1. Never shoot a wedding without a contract.
#2 Today's friend/family/client is tomorrows plaintiff.  See rule #1. 
#3 Never take a camera to a wedding unless you are being paid and have rule #1.
#4 Never shoot a wedding for pay without several weddings as a second shooter and rule #1. 
#5 Never shoot a wedding without at least 2 good bodies, 3 lenses, 2 flashes, a ton of good cards and lots of batteries and a contract.
#6 Always get FULL payment at least two weeks before the wedding.  In your contract state the first payment is a retainer not a deposit. 
#7 Have insurance in case #2 happens.  PPA has excellent access, it is worth the money. 
#8 In your contract include a model release in it so you can post photos. 
#9 Shoot but don’t spray and pray.  Remember this is someone’s one and only wedding.  Don't blow it.  There are no do overs.  Anyone can take 1 good photo.  Pro shooters take an entire wedding of good photos. 
#10 Not abiding by rule #9 can lead to rule #2.

Nov 27 12 05:45 am Link

Photographer

D-Light

Posts: 618

Newcastle, Limerick, Ireland

The subject is pretty well covered so far but just remember that every image you put out there will be viewed by potential clients. If  you give this couple images you're not happy with and others view them, these images may be the reason that they don't book you at a future date.

Only ever let others see your best shots. You're not going to get it spot on with every shot, dump the bad ones and display the best of the rest. Potential clients can only judge you by what they see, so make sure they see only your best.

Nov 27 12 05:55 am Link

Photographer

D-Light

Posts: 618

Newcastle, Limerick, Ireland

Albertex Photography wrote:

GCobb Photography wrote:
As for not shooting a wedding, I'd spend a LOT of time with someone who has.  You need an extra everything, a plan B for anything that could go wrong and an attention to detail that's unbeatable to say the least.

I have shot weddings for 30 years.  I wrote this a couple of years ago for another forum but I have posted it here several times. 
Rule #1. Never shoot a wedding without a contract.
#2 Today's friend/family/client is tomorrows plaintiff.  See rule #1. 
#3 Never take a camera to a wedding unless you are being paid and have rule #1.
#4 Never shoot a wedding for pay without several weddings as a second shooter and rule #1. 
#5 Never shoot a wedding without at least 2 good bodies, 3 lenses, 2 flashes, a ton of good cards and lots of batteries and a contract.
#6 Always get FULL payment at least two weeks before the wedding.  In your contract state the first payment is a retainer not a deposit. 
#7 Have insurance in case #2 happens.  PPA has excellent access, it is worth the money. 
#8 In your contract include a model release in it so you can post photos. 
#9 Shoot but don’t spray and pray.  Remember this is someone’s one and only wedding.  Don't blow it.  There are no do overs.  Anyone can take 1 good photo.  Pro shooters take an entire wedding of good photos. 
#10 Not abiding by rule #9 can lead to rule #2.

+1

Wish I had read something like this when I started out.

Nov 27 12 05:58 am Link

Photographer

Michael Fryd

Posts: 3893

Miami Beach, Florida, US

Albertex Photography wrote:
...#8 In your contract include a model release in it so you can post photos. 
...

Your model release can say whatever you like.  It is only binding on the people who sign it.  A model release from the Bride a Groom doesn't cover the guests (even if it says it does).

If you use an image of a guest in a context that requires a model release, the guest may successfully sue you.

Your recourse will be suing the bride and groom.

The general public will think you are wrong, and you may end up with a bad reputation.  This might make it much harder to get future clients.



My recommendation: if a particular usage requires a release, make sure you have a release from that person.


(Yes, TV shows post a sign saying "by entering you are giving permission...", but  appearances of audience members in the show are incidental.  Anyone who is featured is required to sign a written release.  The TV show knows not to rely on the implied release from a sign)

Nov 27 12 07:15 am Link

Photographer

Robert Jewett

Posts: 2462

al-Marsā, Tunis, Tunisia

PM me your e-mail.

Nov 27 12 09:06 am Link

guide forum

Photographer

GPS Studio Services

Posts: 36347

San Francisco, California, US

Albertex Photography wrote:
...#8 In your contract include a model release in it so you can post photos. 
...

Michael Fryd wrote:
Your model release can say whatever you like.  It is only binding on the people who sign it.  A model release from the Bride a Groom doesn't cover the guests (even if it says it does).

It is amazing how many times I read #8 in threads and how few people understand what you have just written.

Beyond that, if I hire you to shoot my wedding, I am paying you to shoot my wedding, not make money off the photos I paid you to shoot.  I may, or may not be willing to let you post my photos on your portfolio site, but I doubt very much that I want you selling the images to "John's Formal Wear" so he can use them in an ad.

So, even if you did want to put a release of some sort in your contract, as the bride and groom I doubt that I would ever sign anything, other than to let you put images on your portfolio site, if I signed anything at all.

Nov 27 12 09:14 am Link

Photographer

Kent Art Photography

Posts: 2925

Ashford, England, United Kingdom

With the proviso that I have never shot weddings and I never will...

Once you've shot the wedding, and you've sold all the pics you're going to sell, the copyright is unlikely to be worth anything, so why bother with it?

And, if I was planning on setting myself up as a pro wedding photographer, I'd hire models and shoot decent promotional stuff, I wouldn't bother with using stuff from weddings I'd shot.  After all, how many times do you see seriously photogenic brides and grooms?  And bridesmaids and pageboys who behave?

Nov 27 12 09:41 am Link

Photographer

MC Photo

Posts: 4144

New York, New York, US

Michael Fryd wrote:

There are numerous ways in which an unrestricted usage license can be written.  If it is an assignable license, then the client may be able to relicense others to use the images.  If it is not assignable/transferable, then the client can use the images, but can't license others to use the images.


A transfer of copyright is legally very different.  In a copyright transfer, the photographer is not licensing the images, but is transferring ownership of the copyright.  After the transfer, only the client can license the images, not the photographer.  If the photographer wanted to use the images, he has no special status.  He would need a license just like any other photographer.   The photographer would probably not be able to further license the images to others. 

You could attempt to address this by executing the copyright transfer, and then a license from the client to the photographer.   This is is more complicated than allowing the copyright to stay with the photographer, and then giving the client an unlimited license.



The bottom line is that in addition to usage rights, the copyright holder has the right to grant usage licenses and the right to enforce copyright.  If the photographer retains copyright and gives the client an unlimited usage license, the photographer likely still has the right to grant usage licenses to others (and the client likely doesn't have that right).  if the photographer transfers copyright, he no longer has the right to grant usage licenses, and this includes a usage license to himself.


Of course, the photographer has the option of putting the images into the "public domain".  In which case the images are no longer copyrighted.  Thus no usage license would be needed by anyone.  Of course "public domain" only address copyright issues.  Many uses of the images would still require a model release.


Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and this is simply my general understanding.  Always consult an attorney for reliable legal advice.

If, if, if.....

I'm talking about the client having the copyright and giving the photographer an unrestricted usage license.

It's not complicated to write, "the photos made on xx/xx/xx will be treated as a work-made-for-hire. The client _________ will be the sole owner of the copyright and the photographer will have no restrictions to their use of the photos."

People care about copyright because of what it allows you to do. If you can do whatever you want without holding the copyright, then holding the copyright is not important for anything other than emotional reasons (with the exception of pursuing unlicensed uses).

A couple asking to own the copyright is asking for emotional reasons - fear. They are afraid that they will pay $X and not be able to do what they want with the photos. The don't understand the idea of a usage agreement. They probably don't trust themselves to read a contract properly, all they know is if they have the copyright they don't need to worry about anything.

Or, they are asking because they don't want the photographer using them and want the photos kept private.

Either way, if this is a term of the deal, you have to accept it, pass on the job or convince them they don't need it. When they already don't understand and they see that it's important to you, there's a good chance they will think it must be important to them to and you end up in a stalemate or them hiring someone else.

It is far easier to close the deal by saying "it's no problem for you to have the copyright. I'll need an unrestricted usage license because I plan to shoot great photos of your wedding and want to be able to show them to my prospective clients etc." that's something they will understand without suspicion.

The question is how likely are you to end up in a position where you need to file a copyright suit? And, if you give up the copyright and end up missing out on the damages of an infringed use, will that mpbe more or less money that all of the jobs you lose to someone else who will give up the copyright?

You realize that if you were to shoot a photo, register it immediately and Time magazine stole it and used it on their cover, had internal memos that said "do we have a license for this image?" and a reply that said "no, but let's take our chances." you'd win a copyright suit, but you would not get $150k, right? An not because of legal costs, it's because they budget the same rate for the cover shot every issue so it's very easy to determine the actual valut of the damages so a statutory rate will not be needed.

"Statutory damages " does not mean "the minimum amount awarded" which it seems is how most people interpret it.

The cover pays $3k. If you charge more for a wedding stubbornness will lose you more than a hypothetical infringement that may not ever happen.

I'm not advocating giving up copyright to anyone who asks. I don't believe that it's an issue for 99% of weddings that happen. When they're spending $250-500k on the wedding, that may lead to some photos that someone outside of friends and family might find interesting. There are too many cheap, stock photos that people can license for there to be any point in stealing your images. You only need to protect exceptional photos of exceptional weddings. If we assume that all wedding photographer always shoot exceptional photos everytime they shoot, you still have the odds being against it being an exceptional wedding.


Arguing for keeping the copyright in this context is like arguing that buying lottery tickets is a good investment.

Nov 27 12 12:48 pm Link

Photographer

MC Photo

Posts: 4144

New York, New York, US

Kent Art Photography wrote:
With the proviso that I have never shot weddings and I never will...

Once you've shot the wedding, and you've sold all the pics you're going to sell, the copyright is unlikely to be worth anything, so why bother with it?

And, if I was planning on setting myself up as a pro wedding photographer, I'd hire models and shoot decent promotional stuff, I wouldn't bother with using stuff from weddings I'd shot.  After all, how many times do you see seriously photogenic brides and grooms?  And bridesmaids and pageboys who behave?

Exactly.

Nov 27 12 12:57 pm Link