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Copyright How important is it to a Photographer ??? - part 1 of 1 2

by Lee Broders Published 01/12/2016

As photographers, we should all know something about copyright, whether you are a professional or an amateur photographer, it will affect you. It is all very well, not having to know about it, but if someone uses one of your images, when they are not authorised to do so, would you know what to do? Whether you are legally able to do anything and how to approach those using the unauthorised image?

Copyright is a complex area of the law, but with a basic knowledge and understanding it may be possible to identify if the rights associated to your image are being abused.

I do not claim to be an expert on copyright at the moment, but I am working on getting there. After serving in HM Forces, I became an IT consultant, running my own business, before embarking on my law degree, with a view of becoming a solicitor. During that journey, I met The Societies and formed an interest in photography. I am now enrolled at The University of Law where I am presently studying the LPC and LLM. Due to the help I have received from The Societies, I am giving back by talking at the Convention about copyright and contracts for photographers in two Masterclasses.


Copyright is part of a group of rights known as “Intellectual Property”, which are the products of the human mind and considered the property of the person creating the product. Intellectual Property includes patents and trademarks, including others, though we are going to concentrate of copyright as this is the most useful for photographers.

A collection of rights, giving the exclusive right to authorise and restrict certain acts by the owner, allowing the photographer to control the use of their images, is known as copyright. This means the photographer can allow the usage for payment, subject to the certain conditions and protect the images from those who, without authority, use their images, by allowing the photographer to pursue them in law.

Copyright in the UK is protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) 1988. This was effectively the last UK copyright legislation passed with the UK following the lead of the European Union. This is different approach, but on the whole, it has been found that the European approach has been more sympathetic to the needs photographers.

The Act defines what type of works are protected by copyright, not just photographs and defines what a photograph is. The author of the photograph as “the person who creates it”, though this can in some cases be the person who set up the shot, and not the person who pressed the button on the camera. This is significant as the law states that the first owner of any copyright is the author of that work.


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1st Published 01/12/2016
last update 07/02/2018 11:55:50

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