Copyright for Photos

Photographer with cameraPhotographs of your crafts products consist of two copyrights—the copyright in the photograph (owned by the photographer) and the copyright in the underlying crafts product. Unless you took the photo, the  photographer must give you permission to reproduce the image. Usually, this isn’t an issue because the photographer grants to the crafts artist—either explicitly or implicitly—carte blanche to use the photographs.

Most photographers don’t haggle over the right to reproduce photos.  But if you’re concerned about your right to use photographs and want to guarantee a broad range of uses for the photos, for example, to be able to reproduce them on your website, on postcards or in a crafts magazine, have the photographer assign all rights in the photographs to you. You don’t need a multi-page agreement—a short assignment will work — or  you can just include the statement, “Photographer assigns all copyright in the photographs to [your name]” on the photographer’s invoice and ask the photographer to sign it. Sometimes a photographer may be willing to assign copyright but wishes to retain the right to reproduce copies for a portfolio. That’s okay. Just write out your understanding.

The dual copyrights in a photograph of crafts also work in your favor. Since you control the reproduction of your copyrighted crafts design, the photographer would need your permission to reproduce photos of your crafts. In other words, you could halt the photographer’s unauthorized use of photos of your copyrighted work.