Friday, 31 August 2012

The Kent Wedding Photographer Digital Copyright Scam

Beware! The Kent Wedding Photographer wants to keep your copyright!

The Kent Wedding Photographer (aka Andy James of Photo 3 Solutions) promotes himself as a specialist in digital storybook wedding photos in Kent. But there's something in the small print he doesn't want you to see...

What is copyright?

Copyright determines who 'owns' the rights to use photographs. That's not the prints themselves, but the creative property. Whoever has the copyright is allowed to use the images however they wish, and anybody who doesn't have the copyright has no rights to access, print or make digital copies of the photos.

Why do I care if the Kent Wedding Photographer wants to keep my copyright?

Firstly, because it means you don't have any rights when it comes to accessing your photos, and secondly because The Kent Wedding Photographer can do whatever he wants with them.

Let's take the first problem - you not having access to your photos. If a photographer turned up for free, took photos off his own back in the hopes that you might like some of them and pay for them afterwards, then it would be fair for them to own the copyright (although they would still need you and all your guests to sign a model release if he wanted to use them for anything). But in the case of most wedding photographers - including the Kent Wedding Photographer - you pay for their time. If you are paying for someone's time, then you are entitles to whatever they produce within that time. If you pay for their time and then have to pay extra for copyright, you're paying twice.

The second problem is slightly more sinister. As The Kent Wedding Photographer owns your photographs (and if you check the contract you'll find you've signed a model release as well), it means he can use them however he wishes. This may simply be to use as promotional material on his website and brochures, but is he wishes he can also sell the photos, use them on stock photo libraries, or even add the unflattering ones to blooper sites. And there's nothing you can do to stop it.

So, before you sign a contract with the Kent Wedding Photographer - or any wedding photographer for that matter - check carefully who owns the copyright, and also look out for a model release. You are not obliged to sign it - you can get them to cross it off.

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