It’s a fact that many people do not understand the concept of Copyrights. In fact, some people have never heard any explanation for the word.

Some Copyright infringement is the result of downright evil folks who would rather steal than pay their fair share. But a good portion of it is simple ignorance.

One way I fight this is to include a Copyright Protection Notice with every print I sell. I do so whether the sale is electronic or a physical print.

Here’s a copy of the notice I use. Use it at your own risk. Always contact an attorney if you need legal advice.

Please Read This Important Information About Copyright Protection

Thanks for licensing/purchasing a print of my photograph. I am a professional photographer who earns a living from images like the one that you selected.

Please note that the United States Copyright Act provided photographers statutory protection against Copyright infringement.

The photographer has the exclusive right to reproduce any photo he/she made. This includes the right to control the making of copies for distribution to third parties by any means.

It is a violation of law to copy or reproduce these photographs elsewhere without the written permission of the photographer. People who violate the Copyright Act by making or distributing illegal copies are subject to civil and criminal prosecution.

As your photographer, I will try to accommodate all reasonable requests. Please contact me if you need additional copies of this image or want to expand it’s use, and/or change the licensing agreement.

I would enjoy the opportunity to serve you better. If you have questions about Copyrights and my photos, please contact me directly at your earliest convenience.

Thank you in advance for helping me to protect my rights and my livelihood.

Scott Bourne
Photographer

Join the conversation! 38 Comments

  1. Anyone know the Canadian law equivalent? Pretty easy to modify for Canadia.

  2. Anyone know the Canadian law equivalent? Pretty easy to modify for Canadia.

  3. Scott can we use that copyright or it’s likeness? You didn’t copyright your copyright did you?

    Sort of related: Microsoft’s new Photosynth offers a drop-down box of cookie cutter copyrights. While they may or may not hold up in court, it’s nice to see the acknowledgement that there’s a need for various copyrights.

  4. Scott can we use that copyright or it’s likeness? You didn’t copyright your copyright did you?

    Sort of related: Microsoft’s new Photosynth offers a drop-down box of cookie cutter copyrights. While they may or may not hold up in court, it’s nice to see the acknowledgement that there’s a need for various copyrights.

  5. Another great topic Scott! This is something that have not done in the past. I have a big show coming up in a few weeks and I think I’m going to print something like this up for my customers.

    Now, I wonder how many people are going to steal your copyright notice. :)

    Keep up the great work!
    Mike

  6. Another great topic Scott! This is something that have not done in the past. I have a big show coming up in a few weeks and I think I’m going to print something like this up for my customers.

    Now, I wonder how many people are going to steal your copyright notice. :)

    Keep up the great work!
    Mike

  7. @Joe I did not Copyright my Copyright notice. My lawyer won’t let me specifically grant you permission to use it because if you do, and it fails to provide you with the protection you need, you might sue me – you wouldn’t win, but I don’t need the hassle.

    I can tell you I won’t sue YOU if you decide to use it. I put it out there to help folks who want to protect their Copyrights. I hope you find it useful. But remember the advice in the post – if you have legal questions, contact a lawyer :)

  8. @Joe I did not Copyright my Copyright notice. My lawyer won’t let me specifically grant you permission to use it because if you do, and it fails to provide you with the protection you need, you might sue me – you wouldn’t win, but I don’t need the hassle.

    I can tell you I won’t sue YOU if you decide to use it. I put it out there to help folks who want to protect their Copyrights. I hope you find it useful. But remember the advice in the post – if you have legal questions, contact a lawyer :)

  9. I’m not a lawyer but there the information for Canadian from the Justice website: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/C-42/index.html

  10. I’m not a lawyer but there the information for Canadian from the Justice website: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/C-42/index.html

  11. Thanks for a good template!

  12. Thanks for a good template!

  13. This is a really important thing to know. I can’t stress that enough.

    I’m currently in the beginning stages of suing one of my clients for unauthorized use of my photos and I really wish that I had known more about copyright law coming into this. I should have been more specific about the copyright on my images because now I’m facing the consequences of being vague and not knowing my rights in the beginning.

    I’m in Canada, so I thank Francois for that link.

  14. This is a really important thing to know. I can’t stress that enough.

    I’m currently in the beginning stages of suing one of my clients for unauthorized use of my photos and I really wish that I had known more about copyright law coming into this. I should have been more specific about the copyright on my images because now I’m facing the consequences of being vague and not knowing my rights in the beginning.

    I’m in Canada, so I thank Francois for that link.

  15. Can you help me to understand the copyright on OLD photos. I have a photo of my wife taken 40 years ago by an unknown Hungarian photographer who may not even be alive any more. When does the copyright end? I suppose the Hungarians do it differently than we do.

  16. Can you help me to understand the copyright on OLD photos. I have a photo of my wife taken 40 years ago by an unknown Hungarian photographer who may not even be alive any more. When does the copyright end? I suppose the Hungarians do it differently than we do.

  17. Thanks! This is a great post and I really like the idea of including the copyright explanation with a print or digital file. I think I will start doing this, too. And thanks for offering the use of your document. I wouldn’t use it or consider it legally binding. It’s real value is in explaining copyright and your position to the customer.

  18. Scott,

    Is there a reason you always capitalize the word “copyright”? It isn’t capitalized as a rule, so I was wondering if you do it for special emphasis or some other reason. Also, in the third-to-last paragraph there’s an “it’s” that should be “its.” (Not trying to be a jerk about it, just thought you would want to make that small change.)

  19. Scott,

    Is there a reason you always capitalize the word “copyright”? It isn’t capitalized as a rule, so I was wondering if you do it for special emphasis or some other reason. Also, in the third-to-last paragraph there’s an “it’s” that should be “its.” (Not trying to be a jerk about it, just thought you would want to make that small change.)

  20. @David thanks I corrected the error – I write these things as fast as I can to make sure I get something up and without an editor like I have for my books or magazine columns, you see what happens.

    I capitalize Copyright for emphasis – it’s not improper – it’s a matter of style.

  21. @David thanks I corrected the error – I write these things as fast as I can to make sure I get something up and without an editor like I have for my books or magazine columns, you see what happens.

    I capitalize Copyright for emphasis – it’s not improper – it’s a matter of style.

  22. Some information on considerations if a photographer were working on a contract basis to take the pictures and supply them to the client. The releases necessary so the client can make copies? What Copyrights does the photographer still/should keep?

    @Scott if I correctly recall the wedding photo issue of the podcast you mentioned that you were doing this sort of thing for some of your clients. Essentially charge a fee for the event and initial processing and not on the prints.

    Sorry if this is a bit off topic but curious about this aspect of the subject. Hope it would generate another article.

  23. Some information on considerations if a photographer were working on a contract basis to take the pictures and supply them to the client. The releases necessary so the client can make copies? What Copyrights does the photographer still/should keep?

    @Scott if I correctly recall the wedding photo issue of the podcast you mentioned that you were doing this sort of thing for some of your clients. Essentially charge a fee for the event and initial processing and not on the prints.

    Sorry if this is a bit off topic but curious about this aspect of the subject. Hope it would generate another article.

  24. Scott – I’m curious, are you also registering your copyright in addition to just adding the notice on your work? I saw Jack Reznicki present on the topic of copyright, and it’s my understanding you cannot file an infringement suit if the copyright has not been registered. Also, people make the mistake of filing suit in local or civil courts and copyright should be filed in Federal court.

    Jack mentioned http://www.copyrightdefense.com as a good online resource for copyright.

    I’m also curious to know what your thoughts are on the Orphan Works bill:

    http://www.nikondigital.org/dps/dps-v-4-08.htm

    great blog btw, keep the good stuff coming.

  25. Scott – I’m curious, are you also registering your copyright in addition to just adding the notice on your work? I saw Jack Reznicki present on the topic of copyright, and it’s my understanding you cannot file an infringement suit if the copyright has not been registered. Also, people make the mistake of filing suit in local or civil courts and copyright should be filed in Federal court.

    Jack mentioned http://www.copyrightdefense.com as a good online resource for copyright.

    I’m also curious to know what your thoughts are on the Orphan Works bill:

    http://www.nikondigital.org/dps/dps-v-4-08.htm

    great blog btw, keep the good stuff coming.

  26. @AJ this is off topic but I’ll answer – I do register and Jack is correct. If you don’t register – you cannot recover money damages.

    I am VERY uncomfortable with the Orphan Works Bill.

    But I want to keep this thread on topic so let’s keep the responses relevant to the notice I posted. We won’t be having a debate on this thread about Copyright. Not that you were going there – but just letting everyone know.

  27. @AJ this is off topic but I’ll answer – I do register and Jack is correct. If you don’t register – you cannot recover money damages.

    I am VERY uncomfortable with the Orphan Works Bill.

    But I want to keep this thread on topic so let’s keep the responses relevant to the notice I posted. We won’t be having a debate on this thread about Copyright. Not that you were going there – but just letting everyone know.

  28. @Steven Price that’s what the last paragraph of my notice talks about. I will release images to be copied for personal use as part of the original print package. Each photographer should approach that as a business decision. The Photographer ALWAYS keeps ALL Copyrights unless he/she signs them away. Allowing someone to make copies is a licensing issue and has nothing to do with giving away Copyrights.

  29. Scott, I’m a bit confused about your last comment about giving people permission to make copies for personal use. Am I correct in my understanding that a photographer could choose to licence a number of images (let’s say from a wedding shoot), provide copies of the image files to the bride and groom as part of a wedding package, but still retain the copyright for the images? I’m unfamiliar with this whole concept of registering the copyright, however. What does this involve and what does it cover?

  30. Scott, I’m a bit confused about your last comment about giving people permission to make copies for personal use. Am I correct in my understanding that a photographer could choose to licence a number of images (let’s say from a wedding shoot), provide copies of the image files to the bride and groom as part of a wedding package, but still retain the copyright for the images? I’m unfamiliar with this whole concept of registering the copyright, however. What does this involve and what does it cover?

  31. http://www.photoattorney.com is also a great place to learn about copyright and fair use.

  32. http://www.photoattorney.com is also a great place to learn about copyright and fair use.

  33. @David here’s how I interpret it – again, if you need legal advice get it. I am telling you how I have applied this law for 35 years…you can give away as many copies as you want or as few as you want – be as open as you want or as restrictive as you want – in ALL cases, unless you specifically transfer (in writing) the Copyright for the images you still own it.

  34. Scott – I appreciate your response. Didn’t mean to stray off topic, just didn’t want people to assume that a copyright notice implied there was nothing else they should do.

    Good thread, and I agree, consulting with an attorney is a good move for any serious business professional.

  35. Scott – I appreciate your response. Didn’t mean to stray off topic, just didn’t want people to assume that a copyright notice implied there was nothing else they should do.

    Good thread, and I agree, consulting with an attorney is a good move for any serious business professional.

  36. Hi Scott,
    Thanks for the post. A really great example of a description for users of your photos.

  37. Hi Scott,
    Thanks for the post. A really great example of a description for users of your photos.

  38. [...] resources: U.S. Copyright Office FAQs 10 Big Myths about Copyright Helping People understand Copyright by Scott Bourne Where to report copyright infringement on [...]

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