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  • Writer's pictureNina Bashaw

Whats the difference between copyrights and print rights?

Whats the difference between copyrights and print rights?

In the past I’ve had clients ask me if copyrights are included in my packages. I have also discussed this very subject several times with fellow Columbia, SC wedding photographers and we’ve all noticed a running theme as to why clients ask this very question; often they aren’t even sure what they are asking for. In the past some potential clients have expressed they will only book with me if I give them copyrights to the images. Rather than getting annoyed I find that I have to properly educate them on what copyright actually means and what the difference between copyright and print rights are. And usually they are pleasantly surprised with my answer and they are ready to move forward with booking me as their Charleston wedding photographer. But I wanted to write a blog post giving bride and grooms a simple and clear explanation of what the difference is and why I do not give my clients copyrights, and why I instead give them print rights. I hope you find this blog post helpful!

What is Copyright, and what does it mean?

Owning the copyright to an image allows the photographer to protect their photos from being used by third parties without their permission, and for the photographer to use the images for marking their business. ( online, website, social media, and any print form such as prints, albums, canvas, etc. )

You will find that it is industry standard for portrait and wedding photographers to keep the copyright to their photos and to not give their clients any sort of copyright. Clients are allowed to use their images from their portrait session or wedding for personal use only. When the client receives a print release and personal usage rights this means they can print their photos to display in their home, office, etc. A print release does not mean they can sell the images to anyone. When you hear someone buying the copyright to their photos this is typically done because they are highly private people (public figures such as celebrities or those in politics), and they are spending thousands of dollars to purchase that copyright. They often do this so that their images can not be used in any marketing and so that others will not see their photos or seen in blogs or magazines.

What’s a print release?

A print release and personal usage rights allows the client to print the photos from their portrait session or wedding and have them printed from a lab of their own choosing. This release also gives them the right to post their photos on social media.

Here is an easy way to look at it. Lets say you buy a song or album from iTunes or a CD from Target. You have a copy of the song and you can listen to it on your computer, iPhone, in your car, while your cleaning our house, you get the point. However, just because you bought that song or CD this does not mean that you can sell that song, make copies of the CD and sell it, or try to claim it as your own. Same with your photos from your wedding, you can display them in your home, give them as gifts to your friends and family ( prints, albums, canvas etc ) and share them on social media. You can’t not sell those images or claim them as your own work with out a legal copyright release.

If your heart is set on having copyrights to your photos ask your photographer if they sell copyrights. However, be prepared to pay a several extra thousands dollars for a the copyright. A true professional photographer will not give out copyrights without charging a pretty penny, as well as a written and sign permission contract. Augusta, Ga wedding photographers charge upwards of $10,000 for the copyrights to their images, so make sure you have it in writing if you decide you want to purchase the copyrights.

Why don’t I sell copyrights to my photos?

Because it’s my hard work and I put my heart into every single image I take. If I were to sell copyrights to my photos I would potentially giving someone complete freedom to do whatever they want with my work. They could edit the photos, they could display it somewhere that goes against my core beliefs, they could make a profit off of my images, and they could try to take credit for my art and claim it as their own. If all you are wanting is to be able to print your images, display them in your home and share them on social media, then there is no need for a copyright release and all you need is a print release. And wedding photographers are happy to provide you with a print release.

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