Have you ever tried to print images from a photoshoot only to be denied by the photo clerk? This can happen if the images look professional or bear a photographer’s watermark. Most models believe that since they are the subject in the photographs, they should be able to print them. They’re wrong! Here’s why.
A copyright springs into existence the moment a given work is created. For photography, the work is instantly copyrighted by the photographer when the shutter is released. [...] Anything that involves an original creative process is automatically copyrighted by the creator when it takes a physical form.
As the creator, the photographer owns the copyright, not the model. By printing images from a TFP photoshoot, the model violates that copyright, a legal no-no.
Once upon a time, photo labs were lax in their enforcement of a photographer’s copyright. As the saying goes, it’s all legal until you get caught. In 1989, Professional Photographers of America (PPA) sued Eckerd Drugs for copyright infringement and won $112,500 in damages. PPA won a similar suit against Linn Photo in 1994 and settled another suit with K-mart in 1999. In 2001, PPA formed Copyright Defense, a legal watchdog that lobbies for photographers’ rights on Capitol Hill. With more attention focused on copyright issues, places like Walmart, Sam’s Club and Costco began to implement measures to prevent possible copyright infractions.
So what’s a model to do to get her digital images printed? The answer: get the photographer’s permission to print the photos. A signed permission form is a photographer’s way of saying “I own the copyright and I give permission to the model to print the photos”.
Here are links to Walmart Photo Copyright Policy, Sam’s Club Copyright Release (PDF) and Walgreens Customer Copyright Declaration Form (PDF).
For other photo printers, use my custom-made Permission to Print Photographs Form (PDF). Enjoy!