Copyright can be defined as an author’s (photographer’s) legal right to authorise the use, copy or publication of his work. Through copyright it is possible for photographers to protect their photographs from unauthorised use, allowing permission of use to be obtained by them.
Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that
1) Everyone has the right to freely participate in the culture of the community to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which they are author.
By the time you press the shutter button you ahve become automatically the copyright holder of the photograph. However working as a Photojournalist can be the exception to the rule as news agencies’ contracts premise agreements of hiring photographers’ work for either short or long term.
Free lance practice is more challenging as many photographers do not register their work and this is something that infringers know. Without registration its almost impossible to claim your own right of authorship and the legal costs of a potential violention of use.
Law can only intervene when an image is registered to a copyright office, refunding the copyright holder up to £100,000 per image. Furthermore new regulations provide additional compensation for removing a copyright sign from a photograph. Besides this can also be seen as the infriger’s intention to illegally obtain the ownership of the image and act as a proof to a copyright case. Personally I take this as a rule and apply it to all of my photographs that I upload on the web.
No matter if the images are published or not, registration is really crucial and can be done also online, filling the appropriate form and following the instructions provided.
Link 1: The UK Copyright service
Issued: 16th March 2005 Last amended: 16th March 2005 Exploring copyright issues in photography, registration advice…www.copyrightservice.co.uk
Link 2: Photography and Copyright Law, an interview with Carolyn E. Wright
Link 3: All you need to know about Copyrights