Copyright vs Print Release

2 minutes reading time

​Once in a while my friends will ask me what the difference is between a Copyright and Print Release. Let me first start off that I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

Photography is not that different than the music business. In the music business a songwriter is the creator and true artist of the song. Therefore they will own the copyright and all of the rights to that song. The singer is the voice of the song and have the right to perform and release the song, however they can not make changes and edit the song without the permission of the songwriter. It's very similar in the Photography world, the photographer is the songwriter. the creator of the photo and owns the copyright for their creation. The client or model is the same as the singer and have the right to print and promote the photo, however they can not change or edit the photo without the photographer's permission. The singer can not claim that they write the song as the client can not claim that they took the photo.

The following is an easy way for my clients to understand the difference and feel at ease.

"Copyright ownership recognizes that I am the creator of the work; and, as the person holding the copyright, that allows me, as the artist, the ability to edit my work freely as I please, reproduce them in prints and other works, share in marketing and other methods.

Transferring of copyright is usually done for commercial purposes, and means I would relinquish all claims. Not just legally but also artistically - to that image, from that point on until forever. The cost of purchasing the copyright of an image is extremely expensive, and usually done for large businesses and for their profitable gain.

All of my clients receive all final images in digital format, with an accompanying print release. This print release entitles the named parties to take their images to a lab of their choice and reproduce, in print, the photos at their leisure, while still recognizing me as the artist.

As a courtesy to all my clients, I also offer a model release. This is a document that the client signs to instruct their willingness - or unwillingness - for me to use their images for my own purposes. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of me using the images, I am happy to provide a conditional model release. I respect my clients privacy and I'm very protective of their image and would not share, re-post, or use the images without their consent. I assure you, these images will not be used for any nefarious purpose, and if you wish they will not be used at all." 

The Call - Birth Photography