Copyright issues


Oct 13, 2004
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#1
Carrying on from this thread: http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/photo-biz/757109-market-rate-architectural-photography-sg.html

Re: under the IP law of SG, when photographers are paid to shoot, is consider "work for hired", the clients/customers own the rights to the photos, even it is paid for $1.00. Unless they enter a new agreement to supersede this.

Can you post a source for this?

Neither here Professional Photographers Association (Singapore) - Copyright Issues nor here Singapore Intellectual Property Law can I see where it says that copyright automatically passes to the one who commissions the photography.

If you're a freelance photographer, as the creator, you own the copyright, not the client who commissioned you. That's why you discuss usage rights with the client. They don't automatically own the copyright.

If you sign a "work for hire" contract, then yes the copyright passes to the client. If you sign an employment contract and take photographs while working as an employee, then yes the employer owns the copyright, unless you sign an agreement to say otherwise.

But please don't tell me that as a freelance photographer, my copyright automatically passes to the client if I'm commissioned to photograph a building.

In any case, in my email quote, I always point out that "The entire copyright in the photographs is retained by [my name], the photographer, at all times throughout the world."
 

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catchlights

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#2
Commissioning: If a portrait/photograph/engraving is commissioned by another party, the commissioner owns the copyright in the work. If the portrait/photograph/engraving is required for a particular purpose, this purpose must be communicated to the commissioned party. While the commissioner is the copyright owner, the commissioned party has the right to stop others from doing any act comprised in the copyright, unless such act is done for the particular purpose for which the portrait/photograph/engraving is created.

For other types of commissioned works, ownership belongs to the commissioned party, unless the commissioner and commissioned party otherwise agree.

As mentioned in the introduction, the copyright owner may transfer his rights to another party or entity either partially or wholly.
from this thread

http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/gene...ssential-photographers-understand-rights.html

original

Ownership & Rights


Hope this help.
 

Oct 13, 2004
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#3
Where does it say anything about "work for hire"?

Fortunately, I always point out that "The entire copyright in the photographs is retained by [my name], the photographer, at all times throughout the world."

And if a photographer doesn't own the copyright, they can't send them to a stock photo agency.
 

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Edwin Francis

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Mar 24, 2006
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#4
Ownership & Rights

Scroll down to "Commissioning" :

Commissioning: If a portrait/photograph/engraving is commissioned by another party, the commissioner owns the copyright in the work. If the portrait/photograph/engraving is required for a particular purpose, this purpose must be communicated to the commissioned party. While the commissioner is the copyright owner, the commissioned party has the right to stop others from doing any act comprised in the copyright, unless such act is done for the particular purpose for which the portrait/photograph/engraving is created.

For other types of commissioned works, ownership belongs to the commissioned party, unless the commissioner and commissioned party otherwise agree.

As mentioned in the introduction, the copyright owner may transfer his rights to another party or entity either partially or wholly.

-------------------

The 2nd para covers exceptions made by mutual agreement, as spelled out in yr clause.


Where does it say anything about "work for hire"?

Fortunately, I always point out that "The entire copyright in the photographs is retained by [my name], the photographer, at all times throughout the world."

And if a photographer doesn't own the copyright, they can't send them to a stock photo agency.
 

sjackal

Senior Member
Jul 9, 2008
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#5
As far as I know, the USA is the only country that defaults copyright to the creator regardless if its commissioned work by a client or not, exception is 'work for hire' for example if you are sub-con photog hired by a main photog your work belong to the main.

In local context, copyright defaults to the commissioning party. The commissioning party is the person or organisation engaging your services for a fee. Speaking with some UK and Australia photographer friends, they confirmed the same, which is expected since I reckon all commonwealth countries got their Copyright Act from the same source; UK. And copyright law is international (Berne Convention) and should not differ too much.

Many online readings are US sources, so its easy to be mistaken. Still don't believe? Ask a local attorney - which I did and affirmed the same.

"Unless otherwise agree", so it depends on how its worded and the situation. IMHO email can work but it could be tricky because of the lack of structure. For instance if in your quote you mention the price quoted is based on the following conditions blah blah blah including "The entire copyright in the photographs is retained by [my name], the photographer, at all times throughout the world." then it is quite clear but in doing so you also have to specify what the client can use the photos for, for how long, in what territories - in other words, the licensed usage. Otherwise it makes your quote fuzzy and subject to argument.

And if you just merely mention you own copyright but did not say your price quote is based that fact, specify usage terms, etc, then it is not clear. The fact that the client hires you does not also always mean that the client agrees to override the legal default because there is no reason or consideration for the client to do so, by law the client owns copyright by default; to give it up, client must get something in return; a consideration. The consideration could be a lowered price. So have that reason or consideration been mentioned in email?

That's why it depends how how the email is written and how it flows. Best thing is to be clear, concise, in writing and signature.

JMH2C
 

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#6
Copyright is automatically under the ownership of the author (photographer) in all cases, UNLESS it is previously agreed upon in writing. This can be in the form of a WORK FOR HIRE or COMPLETE RIGHTS BUYOUT. But I'm all other cases, the photographer owns full copyright. However, here in the US, us photographers still need to register for Copyright if you want it to hold any weight in a licensing dispute in court. There is a huge settlement difference between a copyright registered image and one that isn't copyrighted. There are still so many grey areas that pop up from time to time.
 

sjackal

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Jul 9, 2008
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#7
Copyright is automatically under the ownership of the author (photographer) in all cases, UNLESS it is previously agreed upon in writing. This can be in the form of a WORK FOR HIRE or COMPLETE RIGHTS BUYOUT. But I'm all other cases, the photographer owns full copyright. However, here in the US, us photographers still need to register for Copyright if you want it to hold any weight in a licensing dispute in court. There is a huge settlement difference between a copyright registered image and one that isn't copyrighted. There are still so many grey areas that pop up from time to time.
Thanx for providing more insights into the US situation. You are in the US, this forum is mainly Singaporean photogs, things work differently here. There is no need to register copyright here in Singapore. If I am not wrong in the US, once you discovered your rights are infringed, you need to register within 3 months, and doing so will entitled you to punitive damages of $150,000/-, even if you did not register within 3 months, you are still entitled to compensatory damages if you win the suit. Americans protect their copyrights big time, good for you all.

But here, punitive damages are not practiced, damages are compensatory in nature, which means it could be very low, and subjected to market norm. Thats why is good to manage things right from the start.
 

Yutaka Go

Senior Member
May 22, 2010
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#8
to NoBob

The links you provided already state very clearly :bsmilie:

Ownership of Copyright

12.1.5 The general rule is that the person who created a work is the owner of the copyright in the work. However, another person is the owner if

• the copyright was assigned to that person; or
• the work was created by the creator in the course of his employment by that person.

12.1.6 Additionally, if the person who created the work

• was doing so in the course of his employment as a journalist or a writer for a newspaper, magazine or periodical or under a contract of service or apprenticeship, the proprietor of the newspaper, magazine or periodical would be the owner of the copyright, but only for the purpose of publishing or reproducing the work in the newspaper, magazine or periodical;
• is a photographer or artist engaged to take a photograph of a person or to draw the portrait of a person, the person would be the copyright owner and he has the right to prevent the photographer or artist from using the photograph or painting for any purpose that he has not agreed to.
 

Oct 13, 2004
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#9
No, in the UK the photographer automatically owns the copyright, too.

sjackal, please pass this on to those photographer friends...
Re: UK
http://www.copyright4clients.com/ (Published by the Association of Photographers)
Who owns the copyright in the images?
In the same way that musicians control who can reproduce their music, photographers control who can reproduce their images. Authors of original works own the copyright in their work and this is enshrined in legislation – the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 – more information on copyright ownership can be found at www.patent.gov.uk

In my email quote, I outline the usage rights granted/usage covered by the assignment fee.
 

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Oct 13, 2004
106
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#10
Re: Australia
Find an Answer - Australian Copyright Council
Who owns copyright in photographs I have taken for a client?
If you have made a formal agreement with the client, you should first check this agreement. If there is no formal agreement, you will have to look at the general rules.

If the photograph was taken before 30 July 1998, unless you and the client have agreed that you will own copyright, the client will own copyright if he or she agreed to pay for the taking of the photograph, even if the payment has not actually been made. If the photograph was taken after 29 July 1998, you will own copyright, unless the photograph was commissioned for a private or domestic purpose and there was no agreement about ownership of copyright, in which case the client will own copyright.
 

sjackal

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Jul 9, 2008
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#11
No, in the UK the photographer automatically owns the copyright, too.

sjackal, please pass this on to those photographer friends...
Re: UK
Copyright for Clients - from the AOP (Published by the Association of Photographers)
Who owns the copyright in the images?
In the same way that musicians control who can reproduce their music, photographers control who can reproduce their images. Authors of original works own the copyright in their work and this is enshrined in legislation – the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 – more information on copyright ownership can be found at www.patent.gov.uk

In my email quote, I outline the usage rights granted/usage covered by the assignment fee.
Thank you, this is refreshing to know. My friend is a family portraits and wedding photographer in Aust. So I guess for him copyright defaults to the client due to the nature of domestic/private photo work. It is interesting to know that at least in Aust they actually have differences between domestic and commercial genres of work.

Wish it is the same in Singapore... but until then we do what we need to do based on the rules now.
 

#13
Out of curiosity, does Singapore have a Photographer's Union or a body that educates and/or stands up for photographer's rights and legal issues? Somewhat similar to APA or ASMP here in the US?
 

GeonSG

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#14
I am just wondering the law seems to have so much grey area after abit of thinking. If customer a approach three different pg to take their work and there isn't paperwork. Would that means to say they have rights to sell the images or even claim the ownership? Anyone who has met some situations like this? ,
 

ellery

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#15
Okay why are you guys so hung up about what the copyright act of singapore says ?

That is the null position in law should there be no contract. As a working professional, most of us work with a contract which lays down amongst many thing who owns what rights, what rights are being granted and for how long and for what usage. If you cannot draft this up, ahhh well I suppose you have to visit a lawyer to help drain down your bank account to do something which you may have been able to do yourself.

No point trying to cry for drains to fall - i.e. that the null position in law should favor photographers. This is Singapore the powers to be are not there to do you favors.

Thank you, this is refreshing to know. My friend is a family portraits and wedding photographer in Aust. So I guess for him copyright defaults to the client due to the nature of domestic/private photo work. It is interesting to know that at least in Aust they actually have differences between domestic and commercial genres of work.

Wish it is the same in Singapore... but until then we do what we need to do based on the rules now.
 

sjackal

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#16
Out of curiosity, does Singapore have a Photographer's Union or a body that educates and/or stands up for photographer's rights and legal issues? Somewhat similar to APA or ASMP here in the US?
There is PPAS but how helpful or beneficial I am not familiar.
 

ellery

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#17
From what I understand form some guys in the US covering the rodeo market, even with registration getting a lawyer to handle a case a real stone bitxx. Even after agreeing to give the lawyer 40 to 50% of the compensation you still need to cough up some retainer fees - the magic figure seems to be 5 to 10 grand. So effecting your rights still takes cash and collecting on judgement can be even more interesting..... unless your uncle happens to Joe Mafiaso squeezing money out of dead beats is profound counter productive in time and money. And I used to harbor such wonderful illusions about being the US being so much better than Singapore. So believe in the power of the contract, if you can do the hostage exchange where images go and the payment comes over at the same time. :cool:

Copyright is automatically under the ownership of the author (photographer) in all cases, UNLESS it is previously agreed upon in writing. This can be in the form of a WORK FOR HIRE or COMPLETE RIGHTS BUYOUT. But I'm all other cases, the photographer owns full copyright. However, here in the US, us photographers still need to register for Copyright if you want it to hold any weight in a licensing dispute in court. There is a huge settlement difference between a copyright registered image and one that isn't copyrighted. There are still so many grey areas that pop up from time to time.
 

sjackal

Senior Member
Jul 9, 2008
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#18
I am just wondering the law seems to have so much grey area after abit of thinking. If customer a approach three different pg to take their work and there isn't paperwork. Would that means to say they have rights to sell the images or even claim the ownership? Anyone who has met some situations like this? ,
Fact of the matter is like what Ellery said most pros would had managed it right from the start.

Another fact is most working pros care more about getting business and invoicing the client than owning whatever copyright for every single pic or assignment, unless there is potential for more income in doing so.

Local culture also plays a part, if a client have to read a page long of copyright texts they simply choose another photog without the hassle, unless you are selling a niche product then it may be different.

Until the law changes to benefit photogs things aren't going to change.

Its usually hobbyists who care more about such matters.
 

Oct 13, 2004
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Singapore
#19
> Another fact is most working pros care more about getting business and invoicing the client than owning whatever copyright.

As a working pro, I keep my copyright, unless a much larger figure can be negotiated.

> Until the law changes to benefit photogs things aren't going to change.
The law doesn't have change for a photographer to do something.

> if a client have to read a page long of copyright texts they simply choose another photog without the hassle, unless you are selling a niche product then it may be different.
Just put a line in your quote to say that you retain copyright and outline what usage the assignment fee covers.

There are still publications that have a budget for photography, but so many photographers will never see that additional revenue because they gave the client unlimited usage rights - just because the competition's doing the same.

What happens when the competition drops the bar further? Like dropping fees? Do you just give in because you're more interested in getting business and invoicing the client?
 

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Oct 13, 2004
106
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#20
if customer a approach three different pg to take their work and there isn't paperwork. Would that means to say they have rights to sell the images or even claim the ownership? Anyone who has met some situations like this?

Well, there ought to be paperwork, but if a client has the copyright, they can sell the images, license them, do what they want, because they own them, the photographer doesn't.
 

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