Photographers! Stop the madness!
Over and over, I see pricelists where people say that their clients get the copyright with their DVD of photographs / digital negatives / high-resolution negatives.
No, no, no, no!
You are NOT giving your clients the copyright! You are giving them a License for Personal Use! (Actually, you are selling it to them, as part of the price tag on selling your digital files.)
While this may seem like semantics, it isn’t. These are actual, LEGAL terms. They have a meaning behind them. It is pretty important. If you give your clients the Copyright on their images, it means that they have the rights to do everything with them and you have NO more rights to use them.
You can’t sell them a print. No more canvases either. You can’t make them an album from their photographs. You can’t display the work in your portfolio. Or on your blog. THEY have all the rights with the copyright. YOU have none left if you give it to them.
This has a monetary impact on you & your business!
If you include a License for Personal Use, they can use the photographs to make their own prints. YOU can still use the photographs for everything else. YOU can still make money off of your photographs by selling them other products.
They are two very different things. Educate your clients on the difference if needed (because someone has told them to ask for the copyright on the photos even though the use license is what they really need), but do NOT give away your copyright!
Think of it as a bundle of sticks – you want to keep some of them for yourself, and you want to share some of them with your clients. You do not want to give them the whole bundle! This great stick analogy is courtesy of Katie Sunstrom, who I did a presentation with on Photographers & Copyright at PhotoCamp Houston back in 2009.
If you’d like more information on copyright law, be sure to follow Plagiarism Today – Jonathan Bailey is an awesome guy and his site is full of great information.
DISCLAIMER: I am not an attorney. Please consult your attorney for legal guidance on copyright issues. Just so we’re clear.