Know The Copyright Laws: Copyright Infringement seems to have become a rampant problem, more so due to the advent of digital photography and internet. When YOU capture an image you own that image copyright and no one, other than yourself, can make a profit using that image. More serious photographers know this and put a copyright watermark on their internet shared image as a notice. These images are usually a smaller more compressed file copies of the originals and are of lower quality but still look good for sharing and advertising on the internet,
Owning the copyright of your own images does not mean you own the copyright of something in the image. This seems to be the real problem in today's world of copyright infringement. People selling photography and art of copyrighted material. Big company's and famous people hire others to surf the web to fine others who are infringing on their copyrighted material.
As a photographer and artist, I am constantly aware of those possible copyright infringements. I look for brands, logos, personal property items such as, art work, even those found in parks, and will either remove or shoot around them depending on how my captured images will be used. Even though I own the copyright of the photograph itself, I do not own the property I am shooting and would need a signed property release, this also applies to any persons seen in an image, you will need to acquire a signed model release. It doesn't matter if only a hand, foot, or that of a person not facing the camera, you will still need a model release even certain silhouettes are protected by copyright.
It is very important, as a photographer and/or artist, that you take the time and learn the copyright laws and how it pertains to your work, for the end results of not knowing could quite possibly financially ruin you. Being uninformed it no excuse in the eyes of the law.
We all love going to concerts, sports, visiting museums, and taking pictures of our attendance of these to upload to our personal Facebook and other social pages to share with others. This is fine as you own the copyright of that image you took yourself even if you are not a so called “Photographer”. No one else has the right to profit from the photograph that you took. You need not worry about copyright infringement if you are not making a profit off of that image, such as selling it as a print, or using it to advertise yours or other's own business, including your own website where you sell other images that you as a “Photographer” has taken. The only way these can used is in a editorial form with limits. One of the limits is those events you paid to attend, museums, sports, concerts. You maybe allowed to take pictures but they are for you own personal use and to share on your own personal page, and not to be sold in any form even editorial without a release and that requires a special editorial release.
Photographing and selling a city skyline other than editorial, you need to be sure to remove company names and logo's from the buildings, unless selling as editorial. Graffiti, even though it is against law to deface a place you do not own, is copyright protected.
So if wanting to sell your photography and/or art work, get to know the quite extensive copyright laws for there is a lot more than what I have mentioned here. For those photographers who want to sell your work I would suggest you become a member of the American Photography Association, which accepts all levels of photographers. I joined years ago when I began my work as a photographer.
So to protect yourself from possible costly lawsuits when selling or use the of your photographs and art such as marketing, learn the copyright laws. When capturing and processing an image be ever vigilant of those laws for your own protection. Below is a link to one of my stock agencies where I sell commercial and editorial images.
With the advent of digital, everyone is a potential photographer, and to separate the amateurs from the Professionals, it became necessary to make a change in classification. To be a professional photographer, you have to make a living wage, around 50,000.00 annual income. Semi Professionals, sell their work and/or work for hire but not enough to make a living wage, but still cover their expenses. Amateurs can sell and/or work for hire, but can not cover their overhead expenses.