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Thread: Copyright remains with Client or Photographer?

  1. #1

    Default Copyright remains with Client or Photographer?

    Hi guys,
    I've been approached by an agency in Singapore to use some of my wedding photos for a commercial campaign and they asked me to seek permission with the couples.

    All but one couple consented to it.

    The issue is that I did not include the copyright clause in my own agreement form back then, stating that the "copyright remains with me" which brings me back to my question above.

    I know there has been a lot of discussion regarding the copyright laws in Clubsnap and I've scoured through the forum but have not found any conclusive answer. In other countries, they have strict copyright laws to protect the creators of their works. One thing for sure, the copyright remains with the photographer.

    But in Singapore, it is a little grey.

    Here's what I found on Professional Photographers Association Singapore (ppas.sg):

    Generally speaking, the creator will enjoy the ownership of the copyright in his work.

    Copyright simply means the right of one to make copies. The only person who has this right must be the person who created the subject matter. It follows that the author of his book is the owner of its copyright as much as the artist who paints a portrait is the owner of the copyright there. Therefore, it is Leonardo Da Vinci who would have owned the copyright in the Mona Lisa and not Mona Lisa herself in the first place unless they agreed to the contrary with the necessary adjustments as to price.

    Similarly for photographs, the owner of the copyright naturally belongs to the photographer in most cases, save for the example of the photographer who merely pulls the shutter on a set designed by someone else. The customer who goes to the studio and asks for his picture to be taken has merely consented to the photographer taking his picture and in return he pays the photographer for that copy of his picture.

    As far as copyright laws are concerned, the customer does not own the copyright but has merely contracted or paid for a copy of that photograph. He gets that single copy which he paid for but he has no right to make copies of the same unless of course, the photographer allows him to do so. Similarly, a person who buys computer software merely has a right to use that copy and in limited circumstances provided for by the law, he may have the right to make back up as well as transient copies. He has no right to make copies of that software which he owns and sell it to another.
    Whereas on the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), it refutes that statement above:

    Q: I provide photography services. Do I own the copyright to the photos that I take for my clients? If I don't, is there any way that I can own the copyright? I want to showcase the best photos in my website and brochures.

    A: In general, clients who pay for your services own the copyright to the photos taken. However, you have limited rights in that if the photos are required for any particular purpose (e.g. a corporate client wants glamour shots of the senior management, to use in its annual report), your clients should tell you and you are entitled to prevent the photos from being used for other purposes.

    In practice, however, many photographers have their own terms of engagement with clients. The parties are free to have their own agreement, which automatically overrides the above default position. Thus, for example, you and your clients can mutually agree that you will own the copyright in the photos but that your clients can use the photos for certain purposes; or that your clients own the copyright but you have the license to reproduce the photos in your website and brochures.
    So, do anyone have the solution to my problem? Any answers or help pointing in the right direction would be very helpful.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Copyright remains with Client or Photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cinochee View Post
    Hi guys,
    I've been approached by an agency in Singapore to use some of my wedding photos for a commercial campaign and they asked me to seek permission with the couples.

    All but one couple consented to it.

    The issue is that I did not include the copyright clause in my own agreement form back then, stating that the "copyright remains with me" which brings me back to my question above.

    I know there has been a lot of discussion regarding the copyright laws in Clubsnap and I've scoured through the forum but have not found any conclusive answer. In other countries, they have strict copyright laws to protect the creators of their works. One thing for sure, the copyright remains with the photographer.

    But in Singapore, it is a little grey.

    Here's what I found on Professional Photographers Association Singapore (ppas.sg):



    Whereas on the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), it refutes that statement above:



    So, do anyone have the solution to my problem? Any answers or help pointing in the right direction would be very helpful.

    Thanks!
    Short answer: you are hire by your clients, the wedding couples paid for your work, so it is "WORK FOR HIRE", they own the photographs you shot for them since you didn't come to an agreement with the wedding couples that you retain the copyrights.

    What PPAS says is also correct, if photographers make clear to customers they are only selling their finished products a hardcopy prints, or give them permission for reproduction of certain images, photographers still own the copyrights.

    so likewise when you buy a piece of computer software, they make you enter an agreement before allow you to download or use their software.

    you can speak to PPAS, or any lawyers handling commercial/ copyright laws to seek any advise.
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Copyright remains with Client or Photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cinochee View Post
    So, do anyone have the solution to my problem? Any answers or help pointing in the right direction would be very helpful.

    Thanks!
    My layman's understanding (I could very well be wrong) is that that IPOS stand would be more accurate for our local context as it is based on the local Copyright Act.

    Ownership of copyright in original works
    30.

    (5) Subject to subsection (4), where —
    (a) a person makes, for valuable consideration, an agreement with another person for the taking of a photograph, the painting or drawing of a portrait or the making of an engraving by the other person; and
    (b) the work is made in pursuance of the agreement,
    the first-mentioned person shall be entitled to any copyright subsisting in the work by virtue of this Part, except that if the work is required for any particular purpose, that purpose shall be communicated to that other person and that other person shall be entitled to restrain the doing, otherwise than for that particular purpose, of any act comprised in the copyright in the work.

    http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/searc...ec=0#pr213-he-.
    Why not submit feedback to IPOS as indicated on their FAQ?
    Hopefully they can clarify things for you, or they may be able to direct you to an IP lawyer.

    If you are unable to find an answer to your query, please submit your Feedback to let us know how we can help you.

    https://crm.ipos.gov.sg/IPOSCRMS_Onl...S_Enquiry.aspx
    Last edited by kandinsky; 15th October 2014 at 06:20 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Copyright remains with Client or Photographer?

    2 very separate issues : copyright and model release. If you one not the other and the photos are used you can be sued. It is a commercial usage you need both. The 3rd most important thing, what has the agency offer by way of payment ? If it is exposure, I think you need to be aware they are paid, exposure can be how credit line (which can be by some mischance left out). Would suggest you think over what is there in it for you. Ask how they got to see the images that lead to you.

  5. #5
    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Actually it is very clear and simple. If you are commissioned to do the work (paid to do the work), unless you specifically mention who the copyright holder is in the contract, then the copyright auyomatically belongs to the commissioner of the work, ie the party that paid you to get the work done.

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