When is it Stealing? Oxford Photographer explains copyright images.

I am seeing it more often then not these days with all the social media making it so easy.  Images taken by Professional Photographers being used to celebrate an anniversary, a birthday, or just an old photo from “back in the day” at prom or some such event.  Believe it or not, this is stealing.

Let me start by explaining what Copyright is.  Webster’s  defines Copyright as: the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work).

Now who holds the copyright?  I paid for the photographs.  The photographer holds the copyright as soon as she/he clicks the shutter on their camera.

What this all means.

It is illegal for you to take photos of professional photographs and have them printed, posted, or anything else.

It is illegal to manipulate the photo that the photographer posted on FB for you to use/share in anyway. This includes using filters, cropping, turning it to black and white. If you changed the photograph at all, it’s illegal.

It is illegal to scan/or take the original photograph and get it printed.  Anywhere, even from your own computer/printer set up at home.

What is it OK to do.

Most Photographers LOVE it when you share the photos via FB, just don’t change, alter them.

Make them your profile photos, just don’t cut out the logo or watermark.

I think most photogs would agree with me in saying you can even use the download option that FB gives you to make it your screen saver/back ground etc on your cpt or upload them to FB in your own album (after all you never know when the photog may take down your photos) but then make sure to TAG & give a shout out to the photographer.  After all, you loved the photos so much, you want to have them & use them right?

Exceptions.  Yes there are always exceptions.

If you have asked the photographer, and they said it was OK.  For both your & the photographers protection this should be in writing.

There is a recent hot Facebook post going on (click here to see it )  where a photographer  took a great family photograph of a mother and her kids.  Sadly, the would be grandmother passed away before, but the talented photographer was able to place a “ghost like” image of the grandmother in this photo.  It is a great idea, and I have had several inquiries about this.  IF the photograph of the grandmother, was taken by a different photographer, she needed his/her permission first.  I’m sure most would give it, I know I would.  Permission is still needed.

The photographer allowed you to have print rights or other licenses.  Depending on the licenses, you may use it for only personal use, or you may use it for business purposes.  Business licenses grants permissions for photographs to be used for business cards,  websites, etc.  This may vary per photographer.

Personal licenses allow you to print the photos.  Not edit, not manipulate, not enter into those cutest baby contests, etc, only print, they way it is.  Again, this varies by photographer they may limit the license anyway they chose.  Make sure to read the agreement, and fully understand it.

If the photographer is no longer living, he/she can’t grant permission.  According to the article I found here (insert link) copyright lasts for the life of the author/photographer and 70 years.   So if you found a wedding photograph of Great great great great Aunt Maggie  from when they first came to America, it is probably OK to scan, post  & share that photograph.

I want you to note, I am not a lawyer. I am a photographer.

One more note,  there are some people who will think they can circumvent the system.  Maybe saving it off a blog post, downloading it off facebook  or something similar and taking it to the local Costco (which I have to say I prefer prints from Costco vs walmart/walgreens etc) and they will be able to print them.   Let me remind you it’s the digital age.  Photos hold tons of information, they can tell you the settings that photographer used to capture that image you love so much.  It also can hold the photographers contact information, or any other tid bit of information we want to embed into that photograph.  It is a way of safeguarding our lively hood.  Just like mom did when you were a kid, we always find out.  🙂  In the end, it’s always better to ask the Photographer first, otherwise it may result in legal action.

Here are some links that you may find useful if you would like to know more.








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