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BJP's Jon Tarrant on copyright

3 September 2001 - EPUK

British Journal of Photography editor Jon Tarrant thinks the Red Bull competition copyright grab is A Good Thing. But what does he say about copyright in his book “Professional Press, Editorial & PR Photography” ?

“The photographer retains copyright in all images. The client is licensed to use the pictures only for the purpose(s) specified. No licence become effective until the invoice is paid in full. The licence is granted to the named client only, and is non-transferrable.”

“Of these three, copyright is probably the most important issue. In particular, there is a crucial distinction to be made between giving the client a licence versus passing over the entire copyright in an image. The difference is not always easy to grasp but has usefully been compared to the situation that applies when renting somewhere to live. In this situation, you have the right to use the building but you do not actually own it. as such, there are particular limitations placed on what you can and cannot do. Renting is like licensing. If, on the other hand, you buy the building outright, then you can do whatever you want and nobody has the power to stop you. buying is like owning the copyright.”

“To a degree, photographers are currently in a position whereby they enjoy the best of all worlds – provided, that is, they retain the copyright of their pictures.”

“If you do assign copyright, you wave your pictures goodbye: you may not even be able to do anything with the outakes from the job.”

“Clients who absolutely insist that they must have all rights, and are prepared to pay for this privilege, should be granted a non-exclusive ‘all-rights’ licence. This allows the client to do anything he or she desires with the images, but does not transfer copyright. Most important of all, it means you can still use the pictures yourself – though clients may insist on a period within which you agree not to supply the pictures to any third party.”

“In summary, the amount of money you can expect from a job is related not to the work involved but to the application for which the pictures will be used – and therefore to the available budget. This is why the traditional ‘time and materials’ approach is so inappropriate when costing photographic assignments. Your fee will also be related to the rights that the client wants.”

“If a client really does insist on taking over the copyright, then he or she will have to pay a commensurate fee.”

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