Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/04/26

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: [Leica] RE: Photo copyright ownership
From: Jim Brick <>
Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 15:32:51 -0700

Austin is correct.

For photographic copyright info, go to:

for complete language.

In short:

Work for hire exist automatically in the case of an employee taking
photographs for the employer. As provided in the copyright law, no
agreements are required. The copyright belongs to the employer. 

An independent contractor ("freelancer") can do a work for hire only in
certain circumstances. First, the work must be commissioned, that is
specifically ordered by someone, and if it is commissioned, it can be a
work for hire only if the photograph comes within one of the nine specific
categories enumerated in the copyright act as qualifying for a work for hire:
Contribution to a collective work
Contribution to a motion picture or audio-visual work
Translation Supplementary work
Compilation Instructional text
Test Answer material for a test Atlas

Jim Brick, ASMP

At 01:50 PM 4/26/00 -0700, Michael Darnton wrote:
>    Wait a minute--I thought you'd already said you'd said your last on this 
>    There are a lot of interpretations of laws that a lot of people don't 
>agree with. Fortunately our legal system is designed to protect us from 
>them. A lot of perople (me and the legal system included) obviously feel 
>that your personal "ethics" in this circumstance aren't ethical.
>     --Michael
>Austin wrote:
>>>Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 13:13:56 -0400From: Austin Franklin 
>>Whether you agree with it or not, that's the law in this country (the
>>U.S.)---freelance workers who create something original, even ifsomeoneis
>>compensating them for it, have the copyright to what was created,unless
>>they are bonafide employees (with salary, benefits, and all that otherstuff
>>that freelancers have to take care of themsleves, usually at a muchhigher
>>cost than an organization has) of whoever they do the work for, orexpressly
>>transfer all or part of their rights to the work. It's not unique to
>>photography, either. Writers, musicians, and other creative types havethe
>>same rights to the work they create as independents. The designexamplesyou
>>give (computers, toasters) are generally performed by *employees* ofthe
>>manufacturers, and copyright issues don't arise (although otherintellectual
>>property issues often do). If a magazine or other publisher wants to
>>purchase all the rights to the work they commission, they can try todoso,
>>but it will cost more.
>There is the copyright law it self, and there is the issue of who ownsthe
>copyright.  Two different issues.  I know how the current law isgenerally
>interpreted.  I disagree with that interpretation.  I do believe that
>copyrights should be upheld, so that is not what I have an issue with. It
>is beyond my belief of what is 'fair' (and ethical), how someone can lay
>claim to work someone else gave them the idea for, supplied thematerials,
>and paid them for.  It is obviously a different case for most editorial
>photographers, which I have no issue with, and I believe, why the lawhas
>been interpreted that way.  I do not believe a commercial photographer
>should be given the same 'rights', in this regard, as editorial or some
>other photography is.
>Engineering contractors are used by most every technology company, andthe
>contractors, routinely, do not retain ANY rights to their work, nor dothey
>feel they should, and they are NOT employees in any way, shape or form.
>They are freelance contractors, as is any freelance photographer.
>Engineering can be equally as creative as any art is.
>Imagine if you had to pay your landscaper every time you used your lawn.
>You paid him to do the work, so why should you pay him for the use ofhis
>work that he did FOR you after the fact?  He was creative in performinghis
>'art'.  He was not an employee...yet no landscaper in the world asks for
>'use royalties'...
>Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at