Don’t Forget to Alter the Standard Photographer’s Contract

Let’s start with the proposition that the photographer will own and retain the copyright in the photographs and you will have the right to use them.

Ownership and Copyright

Actually, this might be a negotiable item. If you were George Lucas or Steven Spielberg you wouldn’t want your “cameraman” to own your movie. So, you would make sure that in consideration of payment of the fee, ownership and the copyright in the house shoot would be yours.

At this point, you would not have any problem uploading the photographs or enforcing your rights should someone else decide to use them without your permission.

This is a simple “house shoot”, 90 minutes of some still pictures and perhaps a 2 minute video. Many photographers in the business will not really care about ownership and copyright. They really only expect to be paid once.

You will see that many will provide a limited licence, perhaps for six (6) months, and then you will have to pay another fee. Sometimes, the photographs are hosted on their own sites, and you simply have the embedded link. That means that when the six months are up, the photos and videos are gone. You will have to rent them for another six month period.

At, the outset, it would be better if you owned them.

Exclusive Licence or Non-exclusive Licence

You will be offered one or the other. If you have an exclusive licence, then the photographer will not be allowing others to use them in the future.

If you simply have a non-exclusive licence, you will have to read the fine print. You may not want other real estate agents using these ones later. However, if the photographer were to use them for self-promotion in the photography business, that may not be a problem.

These matters are negotiable, and you should be seeing if you need to alter anything.

Licence Restrictions and Limitations

This provision may affect your ability to post to various websites, and transfer the material to other forms of advertising.

Make sure that the photographer knows what you plan to do, and that there are no restrictions or limitations in the contract which would prevent you from doing what you have in mind.

Also, make sure that you don’t have a “time” limited licence, you may need it after expiration.

In many cases, the photographer will appreciate that this is not the “Zapruder film”, and will provide you with what you need. If not, there are always other photographers.

If you have a good working relationship with your photographer, have these discussions upfront, so that there will be no problems later on.

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker

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