Tag Archives: explanation of copyright

Photography Copyright Explained- Best Practices

Gun sight with copyright symbol on white background - 3d illustrationWhat is photo copyright?

Copyright is defined as the exclusive set of rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. In addition, any of these rights can be licensed, transferred and/or assigned to another party like what takes place at Cutcaster when we license or sell one of your images royalty free. Copyright only lasts for a certain time period, after which the work is said to enter the public domain. The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works protects any creator of “original works of authorship” under it’s copyright law which protects works in all 160 countries that are party to the Convention, as well as various other laws such as the US copyright act.

Copyright law has been internationally standardized, lasting between fifty and one hundred years from the author’s death, or a shorter period of time for corporate authorship or anonymous works. Generally, copyright is enforced as a civil matter, though some jurisdictions do apply criminal sanctions.

Before 1989 all published works, in the US, had to contain a copyright notice, the (c) symbol, followed by the publication date and copyright owner’s name, to be protected by copyright. This is no longer the case and use of a copyright notice is now optional in the US, though you will still see them used.

Does copyright apply to all images?

Yes, every image out there from the time it is created becomes automatically protected under copyright laws. One should know, that copyright law is different from country to country, and a copyright notice is required in about 20 countries for a work to be protected under copyright laws.

What is copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement, copyright piracy or copyright violation, is the unauthorized use of photos covered by copyright law, in a way that violates one of the copyright owners’ exclusive rights. Imagery infringement may include:


• Using the image beyond the scope of a license or permission granted
• Recreating an image identically with another photographer
• Use of whole or part of an image without permission i.e. “mash-up” or derivative work
• Art rendering, where someone adapts an image without permission