To sell copy right? Or not to sell copy right?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by shaca, Oct 7, 2018.

  1. I have a new client that is wanting to own copyright over a commercial photo shoot for her new brand of high-end bags and accessories. I don't like giving away the copyright to my clients and unsure of what I should be charging for this? She also wants to receive ALL the images straight after the photo shoot onto her hard drive. (I usually upload to Pixieset for my clients to make a selection and then them to purchase the images singularly) Help..?
  2. AJG


    Insisting on receiving all images immediately would be a non-starter for me. If you have difficulty getting paid you have no leverage short of going to court. Once in a while, you have to "fire" a client--this may be one of those times.
    stevenpam likes this.
  3. Yeah I'm a little off hearing they want to receive all the images on a hard drive at first especially when I've given my price list to them for what I'd charge for image. We haven't signed any contracts as we're still in the consultation stage. However, this business seems to want to make it to fashion weeks, and around the globe. They haven't discussed any prices for the copyright, however, would you have any knowledge of what I'd charge around? I'm a little lost atm.
  4. If you haven't signed anything, and haven't shot anything, just politely tell the client that you can't/won't work under those conditions, and walk away.
    shaca likes this.
  5. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    You don't sell your copyright. You license the images and retain the copyright. You can give them unlimited usage (which is what it sounds like they want) at some price.

    For pricing, you should charge for the shoot and for licensing. The licensing value should reflect what it's worth to them and to you. If these are just product shots, without models or composed sets, there isn't much value to you but there is to them. I've done product shoots and not once have I even thought about using more than an image or two as an example for another client, so the value is close to zilch to me. But to them, there may be a lot more value. So you need to figure out what it's worth.
    stevenpam, mikemorrell, AJG and 2 others like this.
  6. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    Spearhead is on the right track.

    CONTRACT is everything. This is negotiation time n you have to get all the details ironed out before shooting. Locations n permits, models, MUA hair n outfits, editing n how many pictures, due dates, compensation for all, or just you for the shoot and they take care of everything else? DETAILS!

    Pictures.... how much is that business worth? Is it a start up cottage, store front, or an actual business that will be advertising, wholesellers? Once you know who they are, you can better gear your pricing appropriately by their sales record.

    Selling copyrights is probably not what they meant or know anything about. Its usually USAGE RIGHTS you sell to them. You always retain copyrights... unless they are making a great offering of over 6 place$ you cant refuse, plus giving you credits (free advertising to you).

    Now remember this, copyright varies from state to state n country to country. Better to consult a lawyer in your area who can send you in the right direction.

    CONTRACT! if it isn't in writing, and signed by both parties, its worthless. Anything verbally agreed on after contract is also worthless unless you amend the contract and each sign the amendments. the written word takes precedents over verbal, anything outside the contract is not even considered in court.

    BTW if you are to give over all the pix... does your camera shoot in RAW and a low res 480 at the same time? Give them the low 480 res pix with the stipulation they are proofs, they are worthless for publication, but can be used as proofs in this case.

    good luck

    PS... what is this shoot worth to you (personally)? Is it a foot in the door for you? Well if it is, then price it so its satisfying but don't get taped into paying hidden costs. You want to be paid as only the camera in that case.... get it in writing!
    stevenpam and bethe_fisher like this.
  7. Charging for such shoots: You know your daily cost and such? Figure a price, that you can live on, out.
    Make a good contract. Elements to consider:
    • Get paid upfront
    • resolve your client's issue with granting their wish
      in the contract. I have no clue what she has in mind. The average machine won't display a CR2 properly; especially if you shoot it in DPR. Sugar coat "Have fun & don't bother me".
    • Get the "quality" standard fixed in a way you'll meet it and won't need to re-shoot.
    • Fix an appropriate price (hourly rate) for trouble shooting, that your client might need, besides the shoot.
    You only have to rework your existing pricing models and service descriptions. I guess you were an image maker and that client seems to want a just shooter. I'd happily do such work. Post processing isn't very much my cup of tea.

    The pitfall to keep in mind: If she expects you and your gear to work like her very own iPhone, she probably knows nothing about photography and won't receive what she believes to be paying for, on her HDD.

    If she happens to know, what she is doing: What will you loose? Does it really matter that she'll contract slave labor in India or Russia to process your images?

    In case she wants everything finished to take home, before you are allowed to pack up and hit the hay, it should make sense to keep your daily plan reasonable. Once you'll have your figures ready, it seems time for another talk with that client.
  8. Bambi Cantrell once said that when she started her wedding business she asked herself, "How much money do I need to make to get me out of bed on a Saturday morning?" She answered the question and that's how she set the price of her lowest package.

    Figure out how much you want to make on the job and charge that, plus expenses. Then license the rights at whatever level you feel comfortable with. Unlimited can be risky, they could end up in a national ad campaign, and you should ask for more if that's a possibility. You also need to consider future shoots for the same client. Is this a product that will need updating (shoes, purses, clothing) or something that they will manufacture the same version of for years (hand tools, work equipment). In other words, is there money to be made in a relationship or is that a one time deal. How important is the money to your business? How busy is your shooting schedule right now.

    Photography isn't what it used to be. If you either blow them off or push them for too much, they will just move on to the next man up. While I understand the need to make money, you don't make any money without a client.
  9. In the interest of accuracy, I’m pretty sure that stopped in 1978. Under the current CRM 1844 (I just checked on the DOJ website to confirm my memory):

    “On and after January 1, 1978, all legal or equitable rights that are equivalent to any of the exclusive rights within the general scope of copyright as specified by section 106 in works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression and come within the subject matter of copyright as specified by sections 102 and 103, whether created before or after that date and whether published or unpublished, are governed exclusively by this title. Thereafter, no person is entitled to any such right or equivalent right in any such work under the common law or statutes of any State.”

    Also, formal registration is no longer required for protection under federal copyright laws, although registration makes it easier to enforce ownership & gain relief from violators.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
    ed_farmer likes this.
  10. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    Now remember this, copyright varies from state to state n country to country. Better to consult a lawyer in your area who can send you in the right direction.

    Otis, You are assuming only USA... EU, Country to Country and States within, vary laws.... thus......
    regardless, consult a lawyer in your area.

  11. You're adding words to my post - I only responded to the clearly quoted statement that "...copyright varies from state to state". You're quite right about other countries, which is why I specifically limited my response to the US, i.e. "state to state". I apologize for any unintended confusion.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
  12. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    You are not properly quoting my complete sentence..

    This discussion was never about copyright law.
    Im not a lawyer and would never try interpreting the law no matter when where or how it was written...

    the proper quote is.....

    Better to consult a lawyer in your area who can send you in the right direction.
  13. 2d


    I think it very wise not to book projects until the client has both signed your contract and paid a 50% upfront fee. Without that check don't schedule the day. You are running a business not doing someone a favor. Learn this line "it's my company's policy..."

    As for transferring copyright or licensing unlimited usage. I don't like to do it so I present two proposals one for a reasonable amount of usage and the second for the requested unlimited (normally three times my creative fee). Once they see the difference they understand. That said in the past year I've had three separate assignments ask for the unlimited usage and while their initial budget response was NO WAY. All three times their legal department insisted and opened up their budget. You're not running a business if you can't stand up for your policies.

    I agree that the request for raws at the end of the shoot is a massive red flag!!! I would have no trouble presenting a large proposal so she moves on. However you handle it I am a firm believer in both a signed contract and the 50% upfront fee before wasting any energy on a sketchy project. I like most others have at least one or two clients that never paid up.
    bethe_fisher likes this.
  14. Do we really have to devolve into the whole "Hey! We're not all in the U.S. . . . " discussion every time?
  15. Sadly, any of us who puts images on websites must be concerned about pertinent laws around the world. Websites are globally accessible unless restricted by governmental control, and content is subject to the copyright laws of the location in which they are viewed as well as the location in which the pictures were taken. As described on NPR by Lars Rieck (a Hamburg lawyer who specializes in photography law), the EU recently passed a "data protection law" that says that the new protection of individual privacy means that "...anyone who appears in a photograph taken in the EU has an absolute right to refuse to be in that photo, especially if those pictures end up on social media. And it's up to the person taking the picture to figure out whether subjects want to be in the photo or not - and that includes tourist vacation photos". Rieck adds that "...treet photography in my mind will have a big problem now".

    I've taken thousands of street photos around the world for about 50 years, and I own, designed, code and operate a website devoted to travel for seniors. I can no longer use pics I took on location in an EU country for illustrative support of narrative if they contain any recognizable images of people, businesses, etc without the permission of the subjects or their owners (if a recognizable physical structure, business or other entity). I'm not even sure I can post them on PN as editorial content because this site is accessible around the world - so I'm no longer posting such pics that I took in an EU country..

    Style aside, Ron is correct that it is "...better to consult a lawyer in your area who can send you in the right direction" if you want to both protect yourself & do the right thing. My lawyer thinks I'm a coward for not pushing the envelope into the gray area, but I'm too old & cheap to be a defendant - so I simply won't expose myself to this problem.
  16. Actually Otis . . . Those TAKING the advice must be concerned about pertinent laws around the world, not those of us posting.
  17. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Before your next move at the 'consultation stage', I'd be investing worthwhile time in a "research stage" of "this business".

  18. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    well actually yes! im the only one here that included a location. so without knowing where any of you are, it would be safe to say "hey! we're not all in the U.S."

    sad pn doesnt post locations anymore.
    stevenpam likes this.
  19. From Australia :)
  20. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    In Australia, photographers don't usually sell "copyright". As per Spearhead's comments, typically we, in Australia, sell to our Clients a licence to use the images that we make for them.

    As per other’s comments one has to be aware of other country’s laws, especially if you’ll be shooting in other countries: the EU has recently made changes. I mention this, because you mentioned "fashion week" and that could include shooting in Europe; however if the Client is experienced then one would expect their Models to have been issued and accepted contracts – that goes to my advice that you should research this potential Client.

    Additionally, regarding Copyright of images of Persons in Australia: it is not fait accompli that the (first) Copyright always resides with the Photographer; though not probably relevant in this situation, Commissioned Portraiture for Private Use is one situation where the (first) Copyright usually resides with the Subject.

    stevenpam likes this.

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