Copyright Act, a waste of time! by Dominic Lee

Sunday, Oct 14th, 2007 in The IPWS Blog by Dominic Lee | 4 Comments

        We recently photographed a group of 10 and after airbrushing all of them, changing heads on 3 of them, removing designer logos and adding a missing tooth, the client bought a 10×8 and asked for a high res file to be emailed to Snap Printing who would print a 30×40 inch canvas for 100 Euro including VAT!

          Naturally I told them that they should ask Snap Printing to provide the studio facilities, the photographer and the retouching skills. They were shocked, believing that because they bought one print that we the photographers were not actually entitled to make any more money from the job, while Snap Printing were.

         I spoke to the staff at my local copy shop and one of them believes that if the photograph they copy is of the person requesting the copy then the copyright law does not apply as no one else can possibly own the copyright of a person!!!!!! (Read it three times if necessary, it beggars belief but that’s what the man said).

        The manager pointed out that the customer operates the copy machine and simply pays the cashier, which exonerates the company from copyright law, as the staff don’t see the photographer’s sticker on the back of the photo (Another jaw dropping excuse).

         There was a great song & dance when the Copyright Act was introduced but what good has it done us if the copy shops don’t know or care?

         Clearly these lawbreakers need to be educated and regrettably the best way to do this is to catch one of them in the act and sue them for breach of copyright, which, according to the Copyright Act 2000 can result in a heavy fine, and confiscation of all copying equipment on their premises. The word would spread fast as it did in America where you would simply embarrass yourself if you dared to ask a copy shop to reproduce work, which is copyright imprinted.

        Until then, avoid selling small prints for silly money, (sell the image not the piece of paper) as unscrupulous copy shops look at wallet size proofs as a licence to print money. Try pricing your work at a premium for the first print irrespective of the size and then sell extra copies of that print for silly money. Make sure the copyright sticker is visible and includes the words “Extra copies may be ordered from XYZ”.


Dominic Lee.


  1. Gerry
    Posted October 14, 2007 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    It reminds me of the days when singers, down on their luck, used to ‘sell’ a recording to a Studio, usually for ten or
    twenty dollars, and that was the end of the recording artists interest in the profits. The studio ‘owned’ the song for evermore. The late great Nina Simone asked people to stop buying her own record ‘My Baby
    Just Cares for Me’ when it became a huge hit some years ago, because she was not getting a cent from its success, having ‘sold’ the song to pay her rent thirty years before. It happened countless others. You are right to resist the smash n grab culture. It will dumb everything down eventually.

  2. Maggie
    Posted October 16, 2007 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    I made the mistake of ordering one of those cheap canvas’s from Reads and I can tell you it’s rubbish compared to one from a pro lab.
    But how many photographers are aware that these copy shops are ripping them off with one hand and supplying them with business stationary on the other?

  3. Profile photo of aishling Aishling muller
    Posted October 25, 2007 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi guys its a little of the topic but im looking for a good source of information regarding copyright laws in relation to photographing people and then publishing the image. any help you could give would be greatly appreciated

  4. Posted October 25, 2007 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Contact the Irish Professional Photographers Association, (the .com version of this site). Also , or but the golden rule is: – never publish private photographs of a person without their written consent.

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