Are Photographers dealing with copyright infringment issues?
I posted this a year or two back on another forum, and thought I'd see what people have to say today here. I work in a lab and we have a machine that makes duplicate prints from prints. I'd say on some days almost 40% of the prints people want to make are copyright portraits they had done (mostly new or recent photos). We would tell the people they cannot duplicate such photos because of the law and stealing from the photographer, etc. I often see people get their proofs they just picked up from the photographer and instead of ordering prints through them, duplicate all the proofs (whether prints or off disc) as many as they want on our machine. Some people try to hide what they are doing from our staff. I even recall one guy being told several times he cannot copy those prints and he would not stop his work on the machine. He even came to the counter with all the copies in an envelope he brought and expect he'd let us charge him for them. We ended up taking the prints he made and sent him in his way. Some people do not care (they tell us this even) they are copying photos they are not allowed to. I had a customer say she'll just come back when Im not there to do the photos again. Another customer heard us talking about the professional photos she was duplicating, she took the prints and ran. She never paid for them and has since been in again. We see people scanning their pro prints at home and trying to sneak them through an order done online.
I'll add the lady that stole the prints- we knew the photographer so we informed her what was happening. She called the customer and said she was in breach of the contract and made her pay in full all charges for every print she made at our lab. We still never got paid for our prints that the girl stole.
Some photographers are smart and only let the customer see the proofs at the place of business, not releasing the proofs to the customer. Most places dont do this however. I can see wedding photographers especially effected by all this since they often let the proofs go to the customer for viewing.
So quite honestly how can any photographer make a business go today when many people are so dishonest by not paying the photographer for the work he or she did for them? Do people really expect for the pro work that is done they should sell their prints for the 19 cents labs charge for prints made off a roll of film?
Probably the day after the first copying machine was sold - someone was using it to violate copyright laws!
It's only gotten worse and will only get even more worse.
That said, if I were a wedding photog these days, I would only give the client a disk with JPEG basic images on it. If they want to rip you off the "price" they pay will be mediocre pics that will never print well.
I don't have any good suggestions, however, for how to prevent the in-store situations you are encountering. Nowadays, most people are "petty larcenous" at heart.
Im talking about photos that are typically done in a studio like in department stores, or photos people bring in on stamped CDs or wedding proof books.
We always ask for the release, especially if its on a CD. We've seen a few releases from discs, so we then know they are legit. Some stores like Sears are pretty good about giving us releases on paper for prints/CDs they made for their customer.
As for photographers that print their own work at our lab, we get to know them real quick after a few times seeing them.
Also most labs in our area take the same rule as to not copying professional work, so its not just our lab.
Last edited by braxus; 04-05-2007 at 06:26 PM. Click to view previous post history.
When I worked at a camera store, we had photo duplicating machines (the Kodak CopyPrint machine). The solution we had was that the machine was NOT self-service. It required an employee of the store to assist the customer. That way, if someone wanted to copy wedding proofs, we could say No, and cut them off at the pass. If they complained, we could refer them to the store manager, who backed us 100%. Once we had someone who had hired Monte Zucker to shoot her wedding try to dupe his proofs in our store. She should have thanked us for stopping her. Monte can afford to take someone like her to court, given what he charges per wedding. We got a lot of folks coming in with Olan Mills portraits trying to copy them as well. Those got sent right back out the door, as Olan Mills is known for sending their own employees in to minilabs to see if the lab will copy the prints with the Olan Mills stamp on them, without a release. They then turn around, file court papers, and come away $10,000 fatter in the wallet per violation.
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This is a pretty grey area of the law. I think the best thing to do as a photographer is to charge up front and then let the people have a dvd with the images to do with whatever they want. There is no good way to police this otherwise. (I am talking about the average person, not agencies or corps. etc.) A lot of photographers have it in their business plan to charge less for their time and then try to make a killing on reprints, which people resent. I am also avoiding any express/implied warrantees this way as well. What if that digital file gets lost or corrupted? This way it is not my problem.
Charge up front and then let them be.
Problem is the law itself would need to be changed, or at least every photographer would have to agree to your business model. Until either happens labs will still be confronted with having to deal with people who have such prints/discs and we wont know either way if they can dupe those or not. At least the release tells us its ok to do this, but the customers can still lose that paper. It was easier when there was just negatives. If they had the negs, there was a good chance it was ok to dupe them. I wonder how things will pan out in the future.
Last edited by braxus; 04-05-2007 at 08:47 PM. Click to view previous post history.
You know Monte died a few days ago? I had an e-mail from Shutterbug about it. I remember being with Monte on the Shutterbug stand at The Show Formerly Known As Viscomm and we were all talking about our worst fears in photography -- the usual reshoots, etc. Monte capped them all: "Being found out and having to go back to a proper job." A nice guy as well as an interesting photographer.
Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
I've tried this a few times, and have yet to get an order from the client. As my wife pointed out, so what if the prints are mediocre? That just makes them think I am a lousy photographer!
Originally Posted by copake_ham
when I got married, our photographer gave us proofs that were on a pebbly surface. They scanned horribly (I was only scanning to e-mail certain ones - I bought the normal # of prints through the photographer). That seemed like a reasonable way to do it.