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Thread: Work for hire - photographer's rights

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    Member jerryreed's Avatar
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    Work for hire - photographer's rights

    While my question is not a perfect fit, the experiences of the professional photographers here are likely to be my best hope for an informed opinion. Upon that basis, please let me ask this question:

    If a photographer does not agree that the work that is being undertaken is a "Work for hire", what rights does the (USA) photographer retain.

    I am a giclée maker. I photograph original art. My thinking is that while I cannot reproduce or sell images of the original art, without permission of the artist, I own the digital file as my original art, unless I have specifically contracted to do the job as a work for hire.

    If this is so, what is the thinking of the photographers as to the ethics of an artist who might take my file and have another photographer print it, without my permission.

    Jerry

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Work for hire - photographer's rights

    Jerry your in a weird spot because this is maybe more a copyright issue than anything else. Here is the issue you are shooting someone's else's art which has a copyright firmly planted on it and that cannot be reproduced for two reasons his copyright on the art and your copyright as the photographer. Someone using your image the lawyers would have a field day with this one, they get to sue on two counts of copyright infringement. Work for hire can work several ways and I am somewhat familiar with this because i have two separate corporate clients that deal with this differently. One is I have one client that actually owns the rights to the images i produce and contract is in place on that , so in effect i give up my copyright to those images. Now i get paid more for this too and i do have a stipulation that I can use them still for my own portfolio and Guy Mancuso Photography marketing. But i can not sell them as stock or anything else because i gave up the copyright for more pay or I would not have the client to begin with. This was a 3 month fight over this deal, in the end i got what i wanted and that was to use them for myself with more pay but not buyout pay. Next client another big company I own the images but give them the right to use them as they see fit or need in any media and this is more the work for hire kind of deal. Now on the other hand i have deals with other clients that get a 1 year right of usage and anything after that year i get more money for that use. Than there are deals with specific usage involved and only that usage, anything else you get paid for that. So have to be carefull on the work for hires because it can mean different things because of your copyrights to those images. Your case is more unique because you are shooting copyrighted art to begin with and the artist hiring you to capture that, under the copyright laws you are both protected. My example of this to folks is you buy a Van Gogh painting , you physically own it but his heirs own the rights to it and anything reproduced from that painting falls under there copyright and if every to be reproduced they get they money not the owner of the physical painting. Try explaining this to clients and the headaches start. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Work for hire - photographer's rights

    If this is so, what is the thinking of the photographers as to the ethics of an artist who might take my file and have another photographer print it, without my permission.

    Let me add to your last question , you own the right to that image that you shot so in effect no they cannot print it without YOUR permission. Unless you specifically give up that right in writing to the artist. Simple thought everything you shoot your own unless there is a contract to say otherwise. That is what the Copyright law of 1974 was all about. This is the way i understand it and you may have to double check this with a copyright attorney to be absolutely sure of your rights here
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Member jerryreed's Avatar
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    Re: Work for hire - photographer's rights

    Guy,
    Thanks. I am looking forward to others' thinking also, before I respond to a current matter. My sense is like yours Guy, that unless I specifically state that I am in a work relationship where my art (the digital capture)is being undertaken as a WORK FOR HIRE, then I retain the rights, which I may or may not grant, compensated or uncompensated.

    Jerry

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Work for hire - photographer's rights

    Exactly Jerry unless you specifically state otherwise you retain all copyrights and rights to your images per the Copyright law of 1974. That was the intention of that law from what I gather.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Work for hire - photographer's rights

    This is why it is really valuable to do some sort of contract/estimate work-up from the start on a lot of things. It lets you set things into perspective. Gives you the opportunity to get clear understanding on both sides whether it is "work for hire" or a simple assignment with managed sales following. If the client wants the images, they need to know what that cost is up front, versus trying to haggle later and run the risk of creating some animosity. I find it very easy to say right from the start that I retain all copyrights to the images I take, but will license them for usage as appropriate. Makes it easier to work from there.

    With respect to shooting works of art....there are some limitations on things also. All of the older works are NOT copyright protected, so the capture you make is the sole copyright to deal with. If you have been hired by a museum or collector to shoot their collection, that starts to drift into the "work for hire" category, so you need to be careful with charges, as well as handing over the image files for their use. If you shot things as a freelancer, negotiate the usage needs. There are lots of things to consider, but basically, if you shot it, you hold the copyright, unless you were being hired to do that work and have agreed to those terms. (The guy working as a curator photographer in a museum, for example, does NOT own the copyrights on the images he takes for the collections. If the museum likes something somebody else shot, for some reason, they have to negotiate the usage rights or buy the copyright from the photog.)

    LJ

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