Having been in photography industry since 2013, I have been regularly updating my website and social media platforms, uploading new content regularly. Since my main focus lies on wedding photography, I also aim to connect with other vendors in the industry. It is considered to be a good and rewarding practise to tag vendors who participated making the wedding day possible. With photographer’s permission they, in turn, share and credit the photographer on social media which can potentially lead to new following.
This year with the help of reverse image search I decided to check if any of my images have been used online without my consent. After a brief search I realised that it appears to be a common yet unethical and even illegal practice to use the images without sourcing the original creator of the photographs.
To illustrate, in summer 2018 I was contracted to document a pre-wedding ceremony. The full gallery from the wedding can be viewed here. During the day I connected with the make-up artist who was also contracted by the client. After having delivered the images to the client, I uploaded an image of the bride during her pre-wedding event on Instagram, where I tagged the hair stylist to credit her work.
The hair stylist received my consent to share the image, providing she would credit the photographer. The hair stylist shared the image on her Instagram and also tagged the company whose hair extension products she used to create the bridal look. Since the hair product company targets worldwide audience and has big following, it was potentially beneficial for the hair stylist to tag the company in her post which could have resulted in attracting new audience and gain new customers.
After the reverse image search I have noticed that the image of the bride was also shared by the hair product company in which they credited the hair stylist but not the photographer.
It is evident that the company used the photo for commercial purposed in order to promote their products. After having noticed that the company was promoting their hair extensions product, I decided to check whether they use the same image on their website. Once I have logged into their website, a chat window pooped up where a customer service representative offered help.
After having received a detailed response, I then informed the representative that the company has used the image without the photographer’s consent. After having had a brief communication, the company had removed the image from their Instagram account.
Copyright is a property right and exclusive to the owner. According the Copyright Law, copyright gives the photographer alone the right to control the use of their photograph. As the owner of an “exclusive right” the photographer can prevent others from copying the photograph and, if it is done without the photographer’s permission, he or she can pursue them for infringement. The law allows the photographers to make that photograph available for payment, with their permission and subject to certain conditions.
However, often companies and individuals disregard the ownership of the photographer and post photographs without permission, and even without giving the credit to the photographer. As a photographer, I invest time, expertise and talent to create the images. It is considered immoral, as well as illegal to use the images without the photographer’s permission for commercial purposes and potentially to gain profit without being rewarded. Similarly to using any physical objects, it is also not acceptable to use the artwork without permission. As a result, it is important to educate ourselves as well as others regarding the copyright law and ownership.
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