Fair Use and Copyright

One of the items I wrote about in the last blog inspired some questions about the term “Fair Use”.  As a photographer, especially these days lots of people “borrow” other people’s images without asking.  Few people really understand copyright laws, but everyone should.   You as the creator of the image own the work from the moment you take the image.  If you want to protect your ownership rights you actually have to register your images with the Government.  Otherwise you have no standing in a federal court for damages.  As this gets into legalities I am going to quote from the source at http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

“One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords. This right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the copyright law (title 17, U. S. Code). One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” The doctrine of fair use has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years and has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.”

When I am specifically authorizing someone to use pictures I have taken, I always specify for what purpose they can be used and under what conditions.  For example, when I sent the owner of the Eastern Market Produce stand the results of our photoshoot, I authorized him to use them on his website as long as he maintained the photocredit embedded in the image.  If he goes off and tries to sell the images, then he would be violating the terms under which he was granted them.

People can use your pictures legitimately without your permission as well.  For things such as criticism or reviews, small excerpts for an academic purpose.  They cannot use them for their own commercial gain.

No one but you, or a specifically authorized agent can grant someone license to use your images.

Two of our favorite presenters at Photoshop World are Ed Greenberg and Jack Reznicki.  Ed is a famous Copyright attorney and Jack is a great photographer.  They have a blog and site for photographers called “The Copyright Zone” at http://thecopyrightzone.com/

They also have material on UTube and Kelby training.  It is well worth the time to listen to them.