In the past couple of years the understanding of what exactly a copyright is and what it means in regards to images has gotten blurred. Digital has made the sharing and using of images so easy that many don’t think twice about uploading an image and using it without any thought of copyright laws.
So what is copyright exactly and how does it affect you and your wedding images? Lets figure that out.
Copyright noun /ˈkäpēˌrīt/ copyrights, plural The exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same
When you hire your wedding photographer, their package may or may not include a disc of images (or usb drive of images) from the wedding.
What is commonly misunderstood, is that by purchasing that disc, you are not being given the copyright to the images. You are instead being given printing rights to the images.
Your photographer will always remain the copyright holder of the images they produce, no matter that they were hired to photograph the event. Copyright remains with them, even though they have been hired to photograph you.
How does that affect you? It doesn’t really, other than understanding why you might get a long winded answer from your photographer if you ask them if you’re getting the copyright of the images.
What most people want is a disc of images that they can go to their local lab and print however many prints they want without having to go through their photographer. And that is what you are paying for when a photographer includes a disc of images in your package.
Printing rights give you the right to use the images for any personal use you could dream up.
If you wanted to print an image so large that it takes up your entire living room wall, you can go ahead and do that. But, if you are starting your own business and you want to use some of your wedding images to advertise you business (say you are becoming a wedding planner), you don’t have the rights to do that without the consent of the photographer.
That is where copyright comes in and the rights the photographer gave you to use the images. Generally once you plan on using the images for any commercial type use, you would have to go and work with your photographer to pay for the usage of that image in a different way.
Luckily 99% of people will never want to do that with their wedding images. Printing all the prints in the world for their walls, albums and gifts is more than they would ever want, so the technicalities of copyright will never be an issue.