What is a copyright?Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976, photographs are protected by copyright from the moment of creation. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, the owner of the “work” is generally the photographer or, in certain situations, the employer of the photographer.
If the photographer transfers the copyright to the client, the photographer no longer owns those photographs. Even further, the photographer would now be unable to ever use the photograph again without permission from the client!
As a rule, a professional photographer NEVER gives up a copyright to any of his or her work, unless the photographer was getting paid a SIGNIFICANT amount of money for those images. Once a photographer gives away the rights, he can no longer use it.
When you buy a CD or digital music, you would never ask the musician for all rights to his/her song. The photography industry works in the same way as the music industry.
What is a Print Release?It is a release to print your images - with guidelines. It allows the client to print for PERSONAL use at home while maintaining the rights of the photographer. Even though a client paid for a photo session and received digital copies, it does NOT mean they own the images. The photographer is the copyright owner, always, unless the copyright has been explicitly released.
With a print release the client can:
- Print unlimited prints from their session.
- Post the images on social media.
- Can use in Christmas Cards.
- Keep the files forever.
As the photographer, I benefit from a print release by the following:
- Clients cannot violate my copyright by editing/transforming my images in any capacity.
- Prevents commercial use without my permission.
- Preserves the integrity of my art, and the photography industry.
- I still own the images but give the client what you really want, the ability to print.