Photographs are a very important part of the digital world. Electronic photographs are included in the definition of photographs in s 4(2) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (the “Act”). At PAIL® Solicitors we are proud to say that we work with a group of crazy creatives, who can budget for our services, which includes photographers. We want to share some tips with photographers out there for a minute. You love photographs, and you want to be this amazing photographer who works for yourself, or to partner with a graphic designer, and/or writer to create a design and consulting creative agency, or some other kind of service.
When most people think of photographs and photography famous fashion photographers like the late Herb Ritts and Mario Testino probably spring to mind. Actually there are a wide variety of specialised photography with a wide range of related income and fame. So what’s your vision? Is it to be a famous commercial, fashion and film photographer like David La Chapelle? Who? To take photographs within one very specialised niche? What? To work as part of a creative agency or on your own? How? To take photographs that have some kind of greater altruistic purpose? Why? To what end?
A lot of questions, but that’s what is needed. To begin to understand photographs you need to start at the beginning. Undoubtedly, photographs are big business. Photographs can earn a good stable livelihood, or create multimillion pound businesses. A well established wedding photographer can earn a six figure annual income, with some charging £5,000.00 an average booking prior to add on sales. There are photojournalists, event photographers, portrait photographers, stock photographers, even pet photographers. It is impossible to list the number of different types of genre of photographs because there are so many. But in order to launch a successful business you need to have a framework for thinking about what to do next. The following tips will be helpful in building that framework.
Never work without a contract – It might be okay most of the time not to have a contract. But a contract minimises the risk that if something does go wrong you have minimised your legal exposure. We would highly recommend that you find a good commercial intellectual property UK lawyer. You will need to select someone you get on with, and build a life-long working relationship with that person. It will save you a fortune in the long term.
Terms of the contract – The contract should consider the parties; the scope of work including time, number of images, if the original will be delivered; size and quality of the digital files; time frame for delivery; copyright releases and commercial use of images; cancellations; and payment. Get your lawyer to help you.
Copyright – The default position is that the photographer took the photographs and is therefore the first owner of copyright. Like every rule (except death and taxes) there are always exceptions.
Damages – You can sue for damages and lawyers fees if somebody uses your photographs without your consent. This is costly and you will need to have started generating revenue and saved some capital before it is advisable to do this. You will definitely need proper legal advice. Advice from unqualified legal enthusiasts on the Internet may not be reliable.
Injunction – You can get an injunction to enjoin (make) people who are using your images without permission stop doing so.
Model releases – Whilst you don’t always need releases, it is best practice always to get your subjects to sign a model release.
Licensing – You can grant specific rights to clients on how they can use your photographs. You can license the photographs for commercial use, or for retail, or for editorial use. You are really only limited by the scope of your imagination when it comes to the variety of ways you can license your photographs.
Social media – The default position is that there is no difference between copyright ownership and attached rights on and offline. As usual there are exceptions.
If you are seeking more guidance, then employing a solicitor, accountant or some other regulated professional person with commercial experience will be especially helpful for bringing more structure into the work that you love. So how cool is it that creatives often seek our services to get more organised? We especially help creatives launch their businesses methodically. We trust this article has served to encourage those creatives that want more structure to their businesses by providing some useful tips.
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To book a face to face consultation for legal advice about photographs on-line contact a digital media lawyer (charge rates may apply and may vary).