Copyright Info



The Federal Copyright Act of 1976 made it clear that photographers, as authors, are the copyright owners of their photographic images, except when those images were made as an employee, or when the photographer has conveyed the copyright to another party in a written and signed agreement. Copyright is a legal right to control the copying, reproduction, distribution, derivative use and public display of photographs, and to sue for unauthorized use (infringement). These rights are protected by laws which provide for damages and criminal penalties for companies, processing photo labs, copier companies and the publishers of publications. Copyright in a work is separate from the tangible form of the work-when a photographer sells a copy of a photographic image, he/she retains all rights to the use of that image, and the purchaser owns only the limited rights to display it publicity to family and friends. When a copying or publishing company that you are dealing with tells you they cannot reprint or publish the photograph you own without the photographer’s permission, they really cannot. They are obligated to protect the photographer’s copyright because willful infringement for profit is a criminal offense, and avoiding infringement protects both of you from incurring liability.


Professional photographers have much invested in delivering quality work, and they generally price their services by taking into account the fact that their customers will purchase photographs and reprints from the photographer. If reprints are produced elsewhere, profits are cut and fees must be raised to cover the loss. Most photographers are also concerned about artistic integrity, and control over the reproduction process is necessary in order to insure the highest level of quality. Digital manipulation is another area of concern, and unauthorized changes in an image can lead to truth-in-advertising violations. Professional photographers are selling service, so if questions arise, call your photographer and negotiate an agreement which will satisfy all parties concerned. This may be radical and new to the show horse world, but it is how business is conducted in the real world!


  1. Guide to Copyright Basics, Publication R1 1981, The Copyright Act of 1976, Public Law 94-553, Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
  2. The American Society of Media Photographers. ASMP Guide: Business Practices in Photography: 1995.
  3. Crawford , Tad, Legal Guide for the Visual Artist. Allworth Press, Cambridge MA, 1995.
  4. Strong, William, The Copyright Book: A Practical Guide. MIT Press, Cambridge MA 1994.
  5. Weinstein, David, How To Protect Your Creative Work: All You Need To Know About Copyright. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1987
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