Helpful Information on subjects related to handling digital images
Back to Extras
About Copyright, licensing and fees
Copyright in images - get to know the essentials
If you are dealing with images in any way, you should be familiar with copyright. The following is meant to give you a brief overview of the essentials, as they relate to pertinent laws, industry standard practices and my policies.
Intellectual property - an integral part of property
The European Union (EU) in its directive (and Germany in its national law) unmistakably acknowledges intellectual property as an integral part of property.
It legally values these properties of photographers by awarding them a high level of protection.
The directive adds that - since such rights are crucial to intellectual creation - their protection helps to ensure the maintenance and development of creativity in the interests of authors, performers, producers, consumers, culture, industry and the public at large.
Rigorous protection of rights and zero tolerance in regards to illegal forms of distribution of counterfeited or stolen photos help in safeguarding the independence and dignity of photographers and other artists.
The EU directive also clearly recognizes that if photographers are to continue their creative and artistic work, they have to receive an appropriate reward for the use of their work; German law speaks of entitlement to "adequate compensation".
Many of my images have required considerable planning, travels, arrangements, investments as well as physical and financial risks. To ensure an adequate return and to allow for an economically feasible operation, I need to safeguard my intellectual property, my copyright.
As the term implies, it is essentially about the "right to copy". That right is first granted to the author of an image, i.e. the photographer.
"When it's created, it's copyrighted"
When a photographer takes a photograph, he - by law - immediately owns the copyright to this image at the moment of creation and is exclusively entitled to grant (or not grant) permissions as to:
- How (for which purposes and in what way),
- When and How long,
- and by Whom
an image may be used.
This is clearly stipulated by German, European and US copyright laws, as well as internationally by way of the WIPO/ UN Berne Convention, which has been signed and is in force in over 160 countries worldwide.
Images are licensed
Images then are not "sold", but rather their use is licensed for a specific purpose.
This principle of licensing as such we are actually quite familiar with on various levels of everyday life. Consider the following real-life examples that serve to illustrate this:
- Book/ Magazines:
If I buy a book, I cannot just copy and re-distribute it. If I want a license to market it in a certain country/ market/ book-club, I first need to pay an adequate fee.
If I buy a regular copy of some software, I may install it on one computer. If I want to install it on multiple computers or in a network, I need to purchase additional licenses.
- Purchased DVD movie:
I may privately watch it as often as I want. But I may not make copies and sell them. I also may not take out clips and make a movie of my own. If I would like to show it to a public audience or make it available for download from the web, I have to request these rights and, if granted, pay an extra fee.
- Movie ticket:
If I buy a movie ticket, I can see a movie once. If I am taking 3 friends along to watch it, they all individually have to pay as well. If I want to watch the film again tomorrow, I will need to pay for another ticket again. I may also not record it on my video camera in the theatre.
- Car rental:
If I rent a car, I can use the car for general purposes. If I paid upfront for 5 days, but keep it for 7 days, I will be charged overtime. If I partake in a rally, use it in a taxi business etc., I am liable to pay extra compensation, since this exceeds the regular scope of use being granted initially.
I have never owned the car either, i.e. I cannot just do what I want with it, e.g. repaint it or sublease it.
The point is always the same:
You purchase a right from a copyright holder for a specific use at a certain fee that reflects the scope of the use.
If you want to do more with an image, if you need a different or broader use, you will have to pay an additional fee, adequately reflecting this additional use.
Establishing your needs and negotiating a fee
The same principles as above also apply for photos. As you approach us with your picture requirements, you will have a specific need and use in mind. We negotiate a fair and adequate fee and then will either produce the images needed or possibly find suitable images in my stock archive, depending on what's needed.
For clarity, the agreed upon usage rights and licensing details for the desired purpose are also outlined in my offer/ my agreement, referenced in the metadata header of the image files, and stated on the invoice. With receipt of the payment in full these rights are transferred to you.
Should you subsequently desire to expand the usage rights in some way, an additional fee may need to be negotiated. Please be sure to always contact us before use.
This is the fairest and most economical model, since you won't be paying for rights you don't really need. (You obviously wouldn't want to pay the fees for exclusive rights of a worldwide advertising campaign if you only need to reproduce a half page photo in a nationally distributed flyer, right?)
Photo production are priced similarly: I base my fee on the scope of the rights you require and also take into account factors such as:
- the difficulty and risk of the task at hand,
- the necessary time, effort and planning involved,
- as well as the exposure and distribution of the images.
Photocredit, keeping track and metadata
Whenever a photo is published, the photographer is entitled to be acknowledged and credited as the author of an image. This is commonly known as the photocredit and is an important aspect of the personality rights of the photographer. Have a look at the photocredit requirements for details.
The metadata header of image files I distribute always includes my contact information, the required photocredit, usage rights granted and much more relevant information.
You can read more about this in my article on Digital Assetmanagement and Metadata, which highlights the most important aspects and benefits of properly dealing with the Metadata contained in the file headers. You will be amazed how helpful this can be!
Wrapping it all up - what you should keep in mind
- When you receive photographs, be sure you are fully informed about the scope of the usage rights (if any) pertaining to the images before publishing or distributing them.
If in doubt, contact the photographer and find out upfront. I will gladly help you and am at your service.
- Inform and instruct your employees: if anybody copies/ uses/ distributes any photos without authorization, they essentially are stealing and are liable to be punished by law, combined with penalties for infrigement of copyright and/ or breach of contract . While copying digital photography is easy, it is illegal and immoral and can lead to stiff fines, payment of damages and even imprisonment.
- When I make a selection of images available to you for review, no usage rights are granted yet. Any use does require the payment of a usage fee.
- Remember that the proper photocredit must always be attached to any publications in such a way, that leaves no doubt to which image it refers to.
- When inquiring about stock photographs or a photo production, please consider, review and communicate How (When, Where) the images are to be used.
This will help me determine the scope of the usage rights needed and will form the basis for an offer.
- Please also be sure to note the details in my Terms&Conditions, which form the legal basis for all my business dealings.
- Lastly: Respect Copyright - encourage creativity!
Here are some recommended links for further reading:
- Helpful information about image copyright rules and how to license stock photos
- Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society
- Good Summary
- Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works Contracting Parties (Total Contracting Parties: 164)
- UrhG (German Copyright Act 9/9/1965 as amended 8/5/1998 - translated into English
- Many international copyright links
- PLUS Picture Licensing Universal System - The PLUS Coalition is an international non-profit initiative to simplify and facilitate the communication and management of image rights. It is organized by respected associations, leading companies, standards bodies, scholars and industry experts.
In German/ Auf Deutsch:
- Nützliche Informationen zu Urheberrecht und Lizenzierung von Bildmaterial
- Das deutsche Urhebergesetz
- Richtlinie 2001/29/EG des Europäischen Parlaments und des Rates vom 22. Mai 2001 zur Harmonisierung bestimmter Aspekte des Urheberrechts und der verwandten Schutzrechte in der Informationsgesellschaft
- Zusammenfassung EU policy
- Berner Übereinkunft zum Schutz von Werken der Literatur und der Kunst
- Die Übersicht der marktüblichen Vergütungen für Bildnutzungsrechte, zusammengestellt von der MFM ist erhältlich bei der BVPA
- Fotorecht - umfassende Website mit Urteilen, Kommentaren
Back to Extras
"Many Thanks, everything worked out well and looks great."
"... The photographs look great and really captured the jovial atmosphere of the night. … It really was a pleasure to work with you and I hope that you might consider working with us again next year. Thank you once again."