Find Photographers »

Copyright Law for Dummies

Wednesday May 19th, 2010

Getty Images (with “support” from PACA and BAPLA) have put together a clever little stop-motion video, which explains “Image Rights” in about 3 minutes:

Though the video’s geared toward their clients, for photographers it’s also a good checklist of items to keep in mind when shooting, especially in terms of  acquiring model and property releases.

Getty’s also created an interesting and potentially valuable website called Stockphotorights.com to answer questions about copyright and offer a few horror stories, presumably to scare-straight those who license stock images. My favorite was about a Greek man who sued a Swedish dairy $6.9 million dollars because they used his likeness on a yogurt container without permission.

A few questions that they answer on their FAQ page:

  1. What are the different types of stock images?
  2. Can I use royalty-free images for free?
  3. What is copyright?
  4. What is copyright infringement?
  5. Why should I worry about copyright infringement?
  6. I’m just a blogger. Can I use images for free?
  7. Is it possible to get free images, legally?
  8. What’s the difference between “personal use” and “commercial use”?
  9. Do you need a different kind of license for commercial and non-commercial use?

We noticed the video and website thanks to Steve Delahoyde over at Mediabistro. It’s refreshing to see someone writing about this from the perspective of the stock licensee, because it’s important for all involved in the process to be educated on what is legally required of someone using an image.

And it’s equally important for photographers/stock sites to help educate their clients, who sometimes find licensing images (sometimes for multiple media) to be, in Delahoyde’s words, “a tricky endeavor.”

-Neil Binkley

Leave a Reply