Copyright FAQ

Copyright FAQ

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the U.S. Constitution and the 1976 Copyright Act to the author for their "original work" such as photographs and digital images. Among the protections that copyright owners have are the exclusive rights to:

  • Make copies of the work.
  • Prepare other works based on the original, including collages, slideshows, edits
  • Distribute copies of the work to the public by sale, rental, lease or lending.
  • To publicly perform and display the work.

These rights are protected by law and those laws provide for damages and criminal penalties for violations. Both the customer and the lab are subject to the law.

How Does Copyright Affect Me?

All images are copyrighted by someone, even your own family photos. It is the intention of this store to comply with the copyright laws and to protect the ownership rights of copyright holders. At times, the existence of a copyright claim or the identity of the copyright owner is not apparent, as the person who possesses the photo is not always the copyright owner. The key thing is to get permission of the true owner.

Who Owns What?

The law says the author is the owner of the copyright. The author of a photo or image is usually the person who clicked the shutter to create the image. If you took the photo, you own the copyright. If a professional photographer took the photo for you, then he or she owns the copyright – even if you paid them to do the work. If that photographer is an employee of a studio or other person in the business of making photos, then his or her employer is considered the author.

Are There Any Exceptions?

Death of photographer: The law applies whether or not the photographer is alive or the studio is still in business. Going out of business does not affect the legal ownershp.

Public domain: Works in the public domain may be copied without permission from anyone.

Length of Copyright: In the United States, copyright in photos lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. In the case of works for hire created by employees or certain contracted workers, copyright lasts 95 years from the date of first publication or 120 years from date of creation, whichever ends first.

Will PhotoSource ever share my digital or print media with anyone else?

No. Once submitted to PhotoSource, your digital and print media (including but not limited to photographic prints, tintypes, paintings, documents, negatives, digital negatives, digital files, discs, flash media, etc) will never be shared with any person or any company outside of PhotoSource without your prior consent.

Is a Copyright Notice Required?

No, it is not. An image is copyrighted whether or not there is a notice.

What About "Fair Use"?

Fair use includes using an image for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research. Fair use exceptions will be determined on a case by case basis by the owner.

This Store's Policy

Plain and simple: WE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS! We ask that our customers do the same. We will work with you to the best of our ability to locate the copyright owner of your image and obtain permission. Please understand if we tell you that we cannot make the copies. It is our legal obligation to protect the photographer to the maximum extent possible, and to keep you and ourselves from incurring legal liability.

Downloadable Forms

If you need to request a release from the copyright owner of a video or photo that you are bringing to PhotoSource, please download and fill out the following form:

Copyright Owner's Consent Form

If you are the copyright owner, are claiming a fair use of a copyrighted work, cannot contact the copyright owner, or generally have an exception that is not covered on the above form, please download and fill out the following form:

Copyright Declaration Form