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Wording for 'Copyright Release'?

Ben Rubinstein - Manchester UK , Feb 24, 2007; 03:31 p.m.

Certain of my packages include the digital negatives (processed hi res jpgs). For the other packages it is available as an optional extra.

I give a letter with the negatives which gives them the right to print the images but does not allow them to use the images for commercial use, etc.

Does anyone have any examples of the kind of wording they use to specify that the client can print the images or use them for personal use, but that I retain the copyright and rights to the images? I think this would be valuable for people like me who may realise just how vague their wording is!

I had written it originally as a letter to show the lab so that they wouldn't refuse to print the images. I looked at it again recently and realised that in keeping the wording as simple as possible that even a lab drone could understand it, I had left myself pretty wide open. I've adjusted the wording but would be interested to hear what others are writing.


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Conrad Erb - Philadelphia, PA , Feb 24, 2007; 03:53 p.m.

ben - I give them a letter as well stating that they have permission to make any reproductions for personal and non-commercial use only. I explain it to them that this allows them to do anything with the image that they would probably do with one of their own, except for sell it. my clients are happy with that.

Jim Strutz - Anchorage, AK , Feb 24, 2007; 03:56 p.m.

This is what I put in mine: "...and provide to us the suitable digital files that he has taken, and will grant to us rights to copy, enlarge and display all of these images for any personal use. However, Mr. Strutz retains the copyright to these images and may also use them for..."

Jen Seay - Salisbury, MD , Feb 24, 2007; 06:05 p.m.

Taken from the copyright release I got from Sam's Club once...

I do hereby declare and warrant that I, the copyright owner of the photos, have given permission and license to the customer to submit for processing or reproducing these photos. I hereby grant a nonexclusive license to ______________ to reproduce these photos for personal use only, and I represent that I have a legal right to grant such a license.

I also have this at the bottom (some of the wording taken from William W., in a recent post where this exact topic was discussed):

With this disc, you may manage and use the image files to produce prints for your family and friends, for personal use only within that group of people. You do not have permission to make copies for sale or for the purpose of circumventing sale of the images by the photographer, nor will you authorize any reproductions of the images for commercial use. You are personally responsible for communicating the limitations of this contract to any person who receives a copy of this disc.

A former student of my husband's (he teaches high school) is now a lawyer, and for a few hundred bucks she's rewriting my wedding contract AND giving me new wording for a copyright release AND a model release. She works as an attorney in Baltimore, 2 hours away from where I live, but we're communicating entirely by email. If anyone wants her name, send me an email...she can help out MD residents and can probably give some guidance to residents to other states, too.


Jur Mellies , Feb 24, 2007; 06:40 p.m.

I don't know about 'copyright' laws in the US. But here in The Netherlands it is written that a photographer is the owner of the copyrights, and a 'cliënt' is by law not allowed to use the images for commercial use...So why bother to write a legal note with the 'digital negatives'? If you include all the digital negatives, you know they use it to make 'copies'...(their goes your 'copyright')... Why scare the cliënt with all that legal stuff? It can drive that cliënt into the arms of the competition.

Kelly Flanigan , Feb 24, 2007; 07:32 p.m.

Lets say the wording is such that a copy shop or lab can make prints from your clients digital files you give/sell them. We as a copy shop have no control of what our clints use the images for. We didnt know if the giant posters are for selling wedding dresses, or just a giant poster a bride's mom wants. Usually the reason a "lab/copy shop cannot understand it" is that wording is done two year old like, unclear, open ended, usually with no contact info if the area is grey. Once you release high res images into the wild, control is often lost or difficult to control. Using goofy wording adds to the confusion. Lack of contact info or names blurs ownership. Maybe the "personal use" is the bride has her own personal bridal dress shop! :) Having a clear letter to present to a copy shop or lab is what a designer of house plans does; oftwn stating the copies are for only building one house per sale of the plans. With wedding images shops often get unwatermarked images, unmarked cd's shot by uncle BOB. All the boilerplate doenst matter if a shop doesnt see it.

Kelly Flanigan , Feb 24, 2007; 07:43 p.m.

The wording should be clear to the minimum wage lab rat, bride and an attorney too. Assuming that others understand weazel words is asking for problems.

Jen Seay - Salisbury, MD , Feb 25, 2007; 02:21 a.m.

"It can drive that cliënt into the arms of the competition."

Usually, they dove into my arms to begin with, because I offer the images with copyright release that the other photographers won't offer around here. So I'm certain that my legal document won't scare them off - especially if it means they get their 8x10 for $1.99 and not $20.00!


Michelle Rudland , Feb 25, 2007; 03:43 p.m.

Something to think about...DO NOT all it a copyright release...call it a print authorization. That way, there is no way that the print authorization can be "confused". Michelle

Neil Ambrose , Feb 26, 2007; 04:47 a.m.

Ditto Michelle. I definitely would not refer to it as a copyright release - for the simple reason that it is not one.

The wording I use is "a perpetual, non-exclusive license to generate printed reproductions of the supplied files for personal, non-commercial use only".

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