Copyrighting is a term you will likely hear about as you go deeper into your career as a photographer. In a fundamental sense copywriting denotes the right of the creator of an image or any intellectual property to copy, distribute, use derivatives of, and sell the intellectual property in whatever way he thinks fits.
By default, an image, once it is created, becomes copyrighted. The copyright belongs to the person who created the image. In some situations, when an image is created by an employee of a company, such as a photojournalist working for a daily newspaper, the copyright of the images belongs to the company and not to the photographer. Of course, there has to be an explicit contract that states that any images created by the photographer will belong to the company.
With the promulgation of the Internet and social media, finding images for free has become very easy. Finding an image on the Internet and using it has become second nature to most. Most people don’t understand copyright laws very well, so it is easy to violate them.
Let’s say that you downloaded an image from the Internet that does not belong to you, and you do not have explicit permission to use the picture. You decide to use the image on a personal project. You are in violation of copyright laws.
Let’s take another example. You found this gifted nature photographer and decided to use one of his images in an article about nature photography. The article is to be posted on your blog about photography. You request this photographer by e-mail to allow you to use the image in your article, and the photographer accepts your request. However, he specifies that the image can be used only once for this specific article.
If you use the image in your article about nature photography only once, you are not violating copyright laws. However, suppose you decide to use the same idea in another landscape photography article. In that case, you will be in violation of copyright laws because you do not have explicit permission to use the image in the second article.
Copyright laws can be a bit confusing to understand, so it is always best to ask for explicit permission from the owner or the person who owns the copyright for the image. If you do not have permission, it is best to look for any other image.
It is always pertinent to remember that all images are, by default, copyrighted the moment they are created. They don’t need to be registered for the copyright laws to be effective.
In some countries, there is no copyright registry at all. This is unlike in the U.S., where there is a U.S. Copyright Office, and you can go and register your image or any other intellectual property, for that matter. This will help you to get a claim in case any individual unfairly uses your image.
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