Legal Documents for Photography

In your photography business it is important to protect yourself and your clients. Utilizing legal documents will help your business stay credible and keep you safe from legal issues that may arise.

black-and-white-city-man-peopleA portrait agreement outlines the responsibilities and expectations of both the photographer and the customer. The portrait agreement acts as the foundation for all photography services provided. A portrait agreement should include the names of both parties, the product or service that is being promised, and the money involved in the exchange. Also, include cancellation or late policy, turnaround time, how the product will be delivered and a notification of copyright.

A copyright is a legal device that gives the creator the sole right to publish and sell that work. Copyright owners have the right to control the reproduction of their work, including the right to receive payment for that reproduction. An author may grant or sell those rights to others, such as publishers or recording companies. Violation of a copyright is called infringement.

Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976, photographs are protected by copyright from the moment of the work’s creation. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, the owner of the “work” is generally the photographer or, in certain situations, the employer of the photographer. Even if a person hires a photographer to take pictures of a wedding, for example, the photographer owns the copyright to the photographs unless the copyright is transferred – in writing and signed by the copyright owner – to another person.

A model release is a legal document that provides the photographer permission to publish the photograph as defined by the elements listed in the release. In the cases of minors, the model release is signed by the parent or legal guardian. For adults, the release is signed by the subject. The purpose of the model release is to provide the photographer with permission to use the photographs for portfolio, studio samples, marketing, and internet uses.

A print release is the legally operative document in which the photographer provides the client permission to reproduce the purchased digital files. The document should outline the restrictions and privileges given to the client. Although rights are given for reproduction, the ownership is still help with the original creator.

Property release allows you the legal right to take pictures of the property owned by the property owner.

What documents do you use to keep your business running smoothly?




One thought on “Legal Documents for Photography

  1. Pingback: Model Release – What You Need to Know | Mitsuyo Maser

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