Only a few can resist the urge to express the “exuberance of the moment,” as experts put it: social media and clever smartphone technology in particular have made it ever so easy to throw up a peace sign, strike a pose and voilá – selfie heaven for well-knowns and unknowns alike.
In fact, according to psychologists, the advent of the selfie era has to do with achieving a level of ‘intimacy-at-a-distance’ with those larger than life people and places we admire.
Situations where potential venture capital investors are grilling start-up management always seems to bring the T.V. show “Shark Tank” to mind.
I don’t know how many times I watched as one of the “sharks” on that show told some poor business bait that money would be offered to invest based on a plan to market a license on an app program that showed great potential.
The shark sure sounds like he knows what he is talking about. Or does he.
Because we know that before licensing anything a startup manager needs to have procured a solid copyright.
He routinely works with clients on an independent contractor basis.
Mark decided to work on a particular client’s project without a written agreement or contract stating the terms of the association.
The client later refused to pay Mark for his work.
The client then began to freely use Mark’s work claiming (1) there was no written or verbal contract for services and no “course of dealing understanding” between them and (2) and that based on the lack of any formal agreement Mark retained no copyright ownership interest or rights in the work he contributed to the project.
Mark feels the client not only ripped off his creative input and artwork but he seems to have been able to misappropriate the copyright interest in his work. Mark has proof his client is using his artwork.
Photography and copyright can be tricky subject matter.
For most of us, copyright violations rather than copyright facts bring issues to light, so we learn by the mistakes of others.
This path, however, leaves room for the spread of rampant misconceptions about the proper application of the law.
The risks are high, too. These days copyright violations can lead to hefty fines and even criminal charges in some instances. At least, infringers can expect a pushy take down email with a lawyer’s threat of court time. Clearly, it’s essential to know key facts.
Even though photographic copyrights can get complicated, the facts can bring clarity and clear up confusion.
Granted, it’s not always pleasant to discover all the sharing you’ve been doing on your Tumblr feed is probably actionable in court should the photographer choose to pursue it, or to realize that the fellow you verbally abused via email for copying your Instagram photo might actually have a good claim under the fair use doctrine.
Still, when it comes to photos and copyrights, it’s always good to get the facts first.
Fact 1: The minute someone snaps the shutter, that person owns the copyright.
This seems straightforward. Copyright is a right of ownership in original works fixed in a tangible form. A photo fits easily in this category. Unless there is a contractual agreement declares otherwise, the person taking a photo owns its copyright. Some have raised the idea that a photo is a mechanical representation of fact. Even with this description, a photo is definitely the original expression of the photographer, in tangible form.