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Copyright, Particularly Of Photographs

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Can anyone here please elaborate on The Laws of Copyright, with particular reference to photographs ?

Let's assume that the photos were taken by mutual agreement and even for the mutual pleasure of a WG and one of her clients. He enjoyed taking them, and it added to his enjoyment of their bookings although it was all done within the paid for time of the appointments. The WG edits and crops them but without using the dreaded photoshop and publishes them as part of her advertising. Hence, she is using essential original photographs.

In general, who has the copyright to photos, the photographer or the subject of the picture ?

Can this be changed if the image is altered in any way by the subject before publication, even if this is only by cropping or removing the colour to make a more artistic black and white image ?

Any Legal Eagles out there able to give a proper and definitive answer please ?

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The photographer owns the copyright, unless its agreed that copyright be passed to someone else or the photographer is an employeee of a company i.e. the photographer works for an agency in which case the agency owns the copyright....

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Just because you as the photographer owns the copyright does not mean you can use them anyway you want though. I believe no one is supposed to alter your photos without your permission?

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While generally true that a photographer owns the copyright of photographs taken. If a photographer is paid to take the photos as "Commissioned Work" they are created as what is called 'work for hire' and considered to be owned by the person paying. It is however prudent for working girls paying photographers to make this explicit in the commissioning agreement that is signed by the photographer because they commonly claim blanket ownership of the copyright.

Edited by WykeTyke

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As wyketyke says, basically, the photographer has the copyright unless there's something in writing to say different.

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I think this dates back to the prehistoric days of plates and later "films"! The photographer had the original negative from which prints could be made.

Now the photographer owns the copyright, unless he is an employee, or he assigns the copyright in writing. It never ceases to puzzle me that WGs don't show much interest in getting full ownership of their escort photographs, so that, if/when they retire they can stop them being used to out them. This ought to cost a` little more, but is IMHO always going to be good value.

It is obvious, when one thinks about it, but there can be no assignment of the copyright in a photograph that has not yet been taken! The Escort - Photographer contract should include a term requiring the photographer to assign the copyright in all photos after the shoot.

It would be nice if somebody (like SAAFE, f'rinstance) with a good grounding in intellectual property law would draft a standard Escort Photography contract, which reputable photographers would use, and ladies could insist on.

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A work can be the subject of multiple copyrights. In this case, the photographer owns the copyright to the original photo (unless agreed otherwise, or he was commissioned to take it), but the WG owns the copyright of the editorial work. So if the original photographer took the edited photo and sold that then the WG would have a case against him.

Copyright is very complex and expensive to litigate so a clear agreement as to who owns what and who has what rights, signed before the shutter clicks, is very sensible advice. Standard-form contracts are common in many industries and one for escort photos could save a lot of disputes and be very simple to administer. Any lawyers on here willing to draft it?

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All images © 2009 {name or studio here}, All Rights Reserved. This Use License shall be governed by the laws of the State of _________.

I, [name or studio here], as copyright owner of these images, grant a lifetime, personal, non-commercial use license to ____________________and their immediate family to print or have printed (no larger than (whatever size, if any) reproductions of these images for display in their home and workplace only.

{name or studio here} has provided web sized and watermarked images for exclusive use on web sites that are not owned by ____________________ and their immediate family. No other online use is granted. Removal of the watermark from these web sized images, or any other violation of any of the other terms, will constitute a breach of this entire Print Release – Use License, rendering it null and void in its entirety.

Please remember that because these images are protected by Federal Copyright laws they may not be altered, copied, transmitted or used in any way without prior written consent of the copyright owner, {name or studio here}.

These images may not be entered in any ****or other competition or contest without the expressed written consent of [name or studio here]. Commercial use of the images is prohibited.

No waiver by either party of any of the terms or conditions of this license shall be deemed or construed to be a waiver of such term or condition for the future, or of any subsequent breach thereof. Waivers are only applicable when they are written. There will be no verbal waivers to this agreement. The Photographer hereby warrants that he (or she) is the sole creator of these images and owns all rights granted by law.

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The above is a rough edit of an American version which could form the basis of a template. :)

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The above is a rough edit of an American version which could form the basis of a template. :)

I'm not an intellectual property lawyer, so my comments should be taken with a pinch of salt, but, as I see it, a WG needs to insist on owning, freehold the totallity of the copyright in her photographs. That template gave the lady a non-exclusive licence for specific purposes. This allows the photographer to sell or licence the images elsewhere, and restricts the lady in what she can do.

A WG, trading as "Bea" a couple of years ago found that her photographer got difficult (=wanted more money, and hell, he takes photographs for a living) when she wanted to use web-site photos in her book.

Most Escort photographers, perfectly reasonably, use examples of their work on their own web-sites. If I were a WG who was intending to retire, go straight, and re-invent myself as a country vicar's wife, I'd want to be able to have the law straight behind me in stopping dead any display or distribution of my escort photographs.

IMHO, the only safe course is to pay the photographer more, to get total ownership. (Boyfriend's photographs are free/cheap, but what if the relationship hits the rocks? Get a professional, with a solid contract, and pay!

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If the photographer automatically owns the rights to pictures taken then why do models have to sign release forms for their pictures to be used by the photographer.

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I know a highly reputable photographer and I cant imagine him even dreaming of using an escorts pictures without her consent even if he just said "wow these pictures are amazing, can I use some of them?" during the photoshoot.

I would say always use a photographer who others you know have used, who has a website and is highly professional. They wouldnt want their name bandied about online or through the courts if something went amiss. They are unlikely to need an unwilling girls pictures either if they are a busy photographer as there will always be another girl who is happy for her pictures to be displayed as an example on their website.

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If the photographer automatically owns the rights to pictures taken then why do models have to sign release forms for their pictures to be used by the photographer.

I was under the impression this was an outdated formality.

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I know a highly reputable photographer and I cant imagine him even dreaming of using an escorts pictures without her consent even if he just said "wow these pictures are amazing, can I use some of them?" during the photoshoot.

And, when tabloid journalist sidles up to him, and offers substantial sum of money for escort photographs of the girl who has just resurfaced as Prince Harry's latest?

I would say always use a photographer who others you know have used, who has a website and is highly professional. They wouldnt want their name bandied about online or through the courts if something went amiss. They are unlikely to need an unwilling girls pictures either if they are a busy photographer as there will always be another girl who is happy for her pictures to be displayed as an example on their website.

That is excellent advice!

Very few British photographers put their name as "Artist" and Copyright owner in the Exif data of escort photos - curiously it is otherwise on the continent. I think that nice Brit parents would'nt be happy for their darling daughter's wedding to be photographed through a lens which had seen "naughty" things!

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If the photographer automatically owns the rights to pictures taken then why do models have to sign release forms for their pictures to be used by the photographer.

Two reasons:

1. Proves the model is over 18.

2. Releases are required to sell content to US websites under 2257. Most websites will also insist on ID for reason 1.

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I think that model release still applies if you are going to use the pics in any way 'commercially'. I had to get them signed (years [and years] ago) when doing pics for fashion articles etc for a student newspaper. But I think that this from 'Professional Photographer' also implies that they are still useful, and provides specimen forms.

http://www.professio...el-Release-Form

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I think that model release still applies if you are going to use the pics in any way 'commercially'. I had to get them signed (years [and years] ago) when doing pics for fashion articles etc for a student newspaper. But I think that this from 'Professional Photographer' also implies that they are still useful, and provides specimen forms.

http://www.professio...el-Release-Form

Okay well commercially would mean anything thats advertising for the photographer or to sell the images to someone who is going to use them to promote any kind of business surely. Which means they cant go onto any websites unless a release form is signed. Any pictures used to promote, advertise or sell are being used commercially. Even if someone used them in a private adultwork gallery the pictures are then being used commercially as people have to pay the gallery owner to see the pictures. There could be some very foggy areas here

Edited by Chloe Kisses

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The model release does have any legal standing in the UK. If no other arrangement has been agreed, the photographer is free to whatever they wish with the images. In this situation, any release form should be called a photographer release as they are the party releasing their rights. When the model is under 18, a parent or guardian's permissionis required to take (appropriate) photos. However as it does exist in US law, if you want to sell the images to a US website, you would need at minimum, a signed release and two copies of the Model's ID. This is for US legislation specifically http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_Protection_and_Obscenity_Enforcement_Act

There are no foggy areas, it is black and white. The photographer is the only person who can sell the photographs unless an alternative agreement exists. Although a AW gallery would technically be illegal, there is no enforcement apart from legal action on the part of the copyright holder. Would a small local photographer want the hassle of dragging their business through the local courts?

Saying that, releases/contracts are useful as they eliminate any future hassle, images can appear years after they were taken and often with a less than complimentry editorial in the case of top shelf magazines. The model, who having passed her law degree, could now be in another line of work, may be able to claim compensation for defamation of character is nothing has been signed.

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The model release does have any legal standing in the UK. ...

The rather strange phrasing of this sentence causes me to wonder whether you have missed out a word, possibly inverting its meaning?

Edited by Barry Cade

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The rather strange phrasing of this sentence causes me to wonder whether you have missed out a word, possibly inverting its meaning?

I have indeed.

Should have read "The model release does not have any legal standing in the UK".

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