With most clients now wanting to have a copy of their wedding photo’s, the question of who owns copyright needs to be answered. It is important that both client and photographer sort this out well before the wedding day so there are no problems afterwards. I would strongly recommend that these matters can be addressed with a contract between the client and photographer beforehand.
A summary of relevant points from the document are:
- Generally, the copyright in photographs lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years.
- If photographs were taken prior to 1 January 1955, copyright has now expired.
- Ownership of photographs varies depending on the circumstances under which they were taken.
- The photographer does not own copyright just because he own’s the camera.
- Photographers also have moral rights in relation to their works.
- A photograph is protected by copyright automatically from the moment it is taken.
- The copyright notice is not required for protection in Australia but it notifies people that the work is protected and identifies the person claiming the rights.
- The photographer is the first owner of copyright unless there is an agreement to the contrary, however:
If the photographer was commissioned to take photographs for a wedding, then the client will own copyright, unless there was an agreement to the contrary.
- Copyright owners can assign (sell) or license (permit others to use) their rights, with or without limitations.
- All agreements and transactions with clients relating to copyright should be in writing.
- It is generally an infringement of copyright to deal with a photograph in any of the ways exclusively reserved to the copyright owner without the copyright owner’s permission, unless copyright has expired.
- Photographers have moral rights over photographs they have taken.
There is a lot more to copyright in Australia however it is in everyone’s interest to come to an agreement before your wedding. – Peter