I think there is a lot of confusion with both photographers and clients on the difference in a Print Release and a Copyright Release. It is very important that everyone knows the difference. I am hoping that this will clear things up.
Professional photography is an art, weather someone has just started out or has been in business for twenty plus years the same laws protect everyone.
As an artist, I never sell my copyright. That would mean I give up my ownership of the art I created and the new copyright owner can use those images any way they see fit. They can manipulate, sell, and do anything they want with that art and I no longer have a right to use those images, or control how they are used.
I spend hours editing my images to ensure that they are perfect, consistent, and match my style. I would rather not have someone take them and use a free action from a free editing software on them, not only will that destroy the time that I put into the image it will also destroy the consistency and my style. Not only is this illegal, but it is punishable by law.
When I have specials and digital images are given I always give a print release. A print release allows the client to print unlimited copies and use these images for anything personal. While you may give away these prints to whomever you wish, this release does not allow you to sell the image, give away copies of the digital version of the images, use for any contests, use in any marketing pieces, or make copies of the digital image or the DVD it is provided.
The following is from the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) about copyright:
IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT COPYRIGHT PROTECTION
The Copyright Act protects photographers by giving the author (creator) of the photograph the exclusive right to copy, edit, and distribute image by sale or transfer.
These exclusive rights make it illegal to copy, scan, edit, or share photographic prints and digital media without the photographers permission. Violators of this Federal Law will be subject to its civil and criminal penalties.
Be sure you discuss your copyright needs or questions with your photographer; reasonable requests may be accommodated.
For more information on photographic copyrights, please visit our Web site at http://www.ppa.com
I thank all of my clients for respecting my art and livelihood by following these laws. I do my absolute best for each and every one of you.
Please do not screen shot or save your sneak peek images.
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