Photographers should be cautious about using murals as backdrops

February 2020 issue Business

Colorful murals in urban settings are tempting backdrops for photography, and they’re certainly popular with clients. But if you make a photo of a client or product in front of a public mural without the artist’s permission, is that copyright infringement? A recent court case involving Mercedes and several Detroit muralists addressed that question. The Mercedes G500 problemIn the months leading up to the 2018 North American International Auto Show, Mercedes planned an Instagram campaign... Continue Reading >

Small claims copyright bill introduced

10.6.2017 News

SHOW SUPPORT BY CONTACTING REPRESENTATIVESAt long last the small claims copyright bill has dropped. Under current U.S. law, copyright cases play out in federal court and are so expensive that attorneys won’t tackle one unless damages are likely to exceed $30,000. The average copyright infringement against a photographer is valued at less than $3,000. That’s a lot of money to an entrepreneur who’s earning $34,000 a year, on average. Yet it’s not enough to battle infringers.A bill... Continue Reading >

Ask the experts: holiday card dilemma

9.23.2016 Business

Q. A photographer friend of mine told me that last year two of his clients used his images to make their own family Christmas cards. They didn’t get a quote from him for printing cards and didn’t even ask his permission to use the photos. How can I prevent my clients from doing the same thing?A. While it’s difficult (if not impossible) to protect yourself completely, here are three ways you can reduce the chances of that happening to you:1. Contract language: One feasible copyright... Continue Reading >

Want to stick it to copyright infringers? Here’s how

6.10.2016 News

What? You thought copyright law protects you?Not so much. Copyright law is great for the big creators—the motion pictures companies, rock stars—but it does precious little for high-volume creators like professional photographers, for whom each piece of work has a relatively low monetary value. Here’s why: In order to battle an infringer, you have to take your case to federal court. Federal court is expensive—like $345,000 expensive for the average copyright case cost. In fact, you'd... Continue Reading >

Ask the experts: Image usage rights

May 2016 issue Business

Q. If I attend a motorsport event and make a great image of a driver, I have the copyright to that image. But those cars are all licensed/registered, right? So can I sell the image, or am I required to get a release from the driver or NASCAR? The same question would probably apply to professional sports players and teams, too. Any advice?A. Yes, with very few exceptions, you’re the copyright owner of the images you create. However, although owning copyright gives you the right to control... Continue Reading >

10 tips: Protect your copyright

April 2016 issue Business

Know the factsCopyright infringement can cost your studio thousands of dollars. And fighting infringers is no cinch. Unless you’re expecting to reap at least $30,000 in damages, most attorneys won’t take on the case, since it’s decided in federal court. This is one reason PPA continues its fight for a small claims process that would give photographers and others a way to recoup damages without, literally, making a federal case out of it.The best thing you can do to guard to your work... Continue Reading >

Reinventing copyright

January 2016 issue Business

PPA educates lawmakersIn November, PPA led a coalition of visual artist organizations to host a copyright briefing for lawmakers in Washington, D.C. “Visual Artists in America: the Untold Story of Copyright” was presented to the Creative Rights Caucus, a bipartisan group dedicated to protecting the rights of content creators. More than 100 policymakers and congressional staffers attended.The briefing was conducted by a panel of working visual artists—a portrait photographer, a wedding... Continue Reading >