Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Copyright Licensing Issues

By Carolyn Wright

When you own a copyright to a photograph, you have complete and exclusive control of how it is reproduced, displayed and distributed. These rights may be assigned, sold, transferred or given away. If you decide to authorize others to use your copyright, also known as licensing, you may want to consider the following items:

a) Who are you giving the rights to?

b) What specific rights are you granting?

c) Are you authorizing print and/or electronic rights?

d) If you grant electronic rights, what kind? CD? Web?

e) For what time are you granting the rights?

f) Will the rights be exclusive?

g) How will the rights be used? What market or industry?

h) What territory is covered by the rights? North America? English-speaking countries? Worldwide?

i) Are there any work-for-hire implications?

j) How will you be paid? By a flat fee? By royalties?

k) If paid by royalties, how will the royalties be calculated?

l) When will you be paid?

m) Will you allow certain alterations of the work in the use?

n) Will you require certain items with the usage? Copyright notice? Photo credit?

o) Who is responsible for loss, damage or theft of the work?

p) Do you want samples of the use?

q) Specifically retain all other rights to your copyrights - you never know what future usage technology will bring.

r) Make the license subject to being paid in full.

While licensing rights like those referenced above can be done verbally, it is best to put them in writing. You will minimize confusion, and you will have something concrete to rely upon if a dispute arises. To be sure that every important aspect of licensing is addressed, ask an attorney who is familiar with these issues to review the license.

Take my advice; get professional help.

Copyright 2005 Carolyn E. Wright All Rights Reserved


Carolyn E. Wright, Esq., has a unique legal practice aimed squarely at the needs of photographers. A pro photographer herself, Carolyn has the credentials and the experience to protect photographers. She’s represented clients in multimillion dollar litigations, but also has the desire to help new photographers just starting their careers. Carolyn graduated from Emory University School of Law with a Juris Doctor, and from Tennessee Tech Univ. with a Masters of Business Administration degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in music.

She wrote the book on photography law. “88 Secrets to the Law for Photographers," by Carolyn and well-known professional photographer, Scott Bourne, is scheduled for fall 2005 release by Olympic Mountain School Press. Carolyn also is a columnist for PhotoFocus Magazine.

Carolyn specializes in wildlife photography and her legal website is

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