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Does Copyright Give Me Full Control?

Can I Use My Photos However I Please?

There is some confusion about copyright and what it allows you to do with your photographs.

As a professional photographer working for a client, you may or may not own the copyright in the photographs you take. Hopefully you do because of the contract you have with your client. (WIthout a contract, generally a business-to-business photographer will own the copyright, but a domestic wedding or portrait photographer will not.)

However, owning the copyright and then using the photograph in any way you please are two completely different issues.

There are limits to how a photograph can be used by you, even if you own the copyright.

Advertising Use

Photographing a couple at a wedding and then using those photographs to promote your own business is not an automatic right.The couple may not like the photographs you have taken or may prefer to keep them private. you need to have their permission to use the photographs of them to promote your business.

Another example is a photograph you take of a famous tennis player in public. you may own the copyright in the photograph, but it doesn’t give you the right to sell it to another company who uses it for advertising purposes.

This law has nothing to do with copyright, rather the advertiser doesn’t have permission to use the photograph of the tennis player in its advertising. If the advertiser obtains permission from the tennis player, then you can sell or licence the photograph to the advertiser.

Editorial Use

It’s a slightly different situation if you sell the photograph to a magazine or a website. In Australia, there is nothing stopping you from selling a photograph of the tennis player taken in a public space for editorial (not advertising) purposes.

This assumes that the photograph is not derogatory or defamatory, of course.

Other Agreements

If the photograph was taken at a tennis tournament, then the terms and conditions printed in small type on the back of the ticket may prevent you from selling photographs you take at the tournament. This doesn’t have anything to do with copyright either, rather it’s an agreement you make when you buy the ticket - either you accept the terms and conditions on the ticket, or you don’t go to the tournament!

Copyright is important, but it’s not the only law that affects how your photographs can be used.

This is general information only. We do not know your specific financial or legal situation and we are not providing you with advice. As such, this article should not be relied upon as legal, financial or accounting advice. Please use this article as a conversation starter with your own adviser.

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