Thursday, February 11, 2010

Copyright...tell it from the start.

I am writing this after one more lesson learned. They say you learn things everyday.
And so I did today.

Back in the day, when I practiced Law as a paralegal in a law firm in Mexico, I was amazed and always interested in how to protect a photograph, a painting or even a poem for an artist. Art is really so relative but then again, valuable (all of it!) that it always interested me how should you protect the rights of the has always gotten my attention but how can you establish what is yours is just yours and yours only?

Simple. Do so in your estimate. So you can later count that there is no excuse; you have it written on paper since the first time you were asked to tell how much for your service..
Whenever you are asked for an estimate for a photo shoot, always establish that you are first and foremost, giving the rights to your client for its commercial use ONLY. The rights for self-promotion are yours. All of them. If you own the art, you are able to promote it. However, in this case be careful: check with the client the timeline he/she has to release the campaign, the magazine cover, or whatever you did and stick to their dates.

So, I would suggest this:
- Ask to get a signature on the estimate with the legend "Photographer will retain the rights of the photography for self-promotion".
- Agree with your client/ad agency on the terms of confidentiality of the photograph. You will of course not publish it on your website until the ad/cover is on and going.
- Stick to what you had agreed. Comply with the clauses you have written.

It is not too much to ask to ONLY have the right to self-promote; and self-promote is; by publishing on your website (when time comes) uploading it to your blog, adding it to your print portfolio or sending it out through promos . You are NOT using the photograph commercially, you are not getting income or taking advantage of the brand/label/artist/situation that you now own through a photograph. You are not selling it. And for that, I will ask to respect others work; models/ad agency/producers/stylists and everyone who worked with you.

Respect and ask for respect.

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  1. see my second entry on my blog: talks about art, what is considered art, etc...the only thing i wonder about is a complete buy out OR say, a three year contract? do you limit your contracts? or have a clause saying it will be used minimally for self promotion during the campaign? especially with web, the longetivity with images is longest...

  2. The contract varies...totally. You just have to set the rules straight with the client from meeting 1. It is important to do so since your work and most importantly your economy will depend on that. If it is used in web, there is a clause that says that it is used for that. I would recommend to state the specifics, where is it going to be used, for how long and for what purposes. Territory and time.