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Friday 24 May 2013

Talking to clients about copyright laws

This is a continuation from last weeks blog.

As I explained I had a situation where my client was under the misconception of ownership of work, once that work was ditributed online. So, what did I do to correct this belief and still retain the client as a happy and fulfilled individual?

First off, it's all about profesionalism. There is no point in getting angry or feeling hurt if a client uses or wants to use a photo of yours in a manner that you have not given permission. In fact, the opposite should be true most of the time. In my case I was very excited and happy that my client felt my work worthy enough to be used in a capacity that was much larger than I had anticipated, and I stated that in the opening paragraph of my email. What we as photographers want to do is educate our clients on the new copyright laws, not alienate them from using our services. This can lead to them trying to seek out another photographer who may not be as professional as us, which doesn't help anybody.

What transpired was a very matter of  fact approach via email as to when, how, and what laws changed with the copyright regulations. Right from the beginning we (the client and myself) had an agreement that the work that I provided to them could be used for any use for a specific period of time. In this case it was one month. I pointed out, after explaining what had changed with copyrights, that this one month period period of time was drawing to an end and I would be more than willing to negotiate any further uses. Below find an excerpt from the email I sent to the client, I believe it sums up why this education is so very important. Names have been removed for privacy.

"I wanted to put that out there for two reasons. One it protects my work from being used in a way that I might not approve of. Second it protects --------. If sometime down the road the photos surface with or for some ill intent, similar to the -------- current slander campaign against ---------, I have the ability to put a stop to it because I retain copyright ownership."

That is the crux of the issue. This new regulation protects your work from surfacing in a way that you do not want, and if it is found, you have a legal way of stopping it. Prior to November 2012 you would have a large fight on your hands, but now you have the ability to control how, where, and who uses that you created and worked so hard to achieve.

Now back to the client feelings. I believe that because of the professional way I conducted myself they did learn what copyright meant in today's photography world. They were not angry or upset, did not feel slighted or misused, and I felt that they had more respect for me and my profession. I went on to shoot this client a number of more times over the week and am sure that I will be the first person they call for any of their further photography needs.

In closing for the week I want to stress DON'T LET PEOPLE TAKE YOUR WORK, and be flattered when others want to use it. Be open and professional about what you need or want for your service and never ever settle for less than what you believe. We are artists. We work hard to achieve what we produce. Our work is a representation of who we are. We wouldn't sell ourselves out, so why shouldn't we treat our work with the same respect?

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