Photographic Contracts and Copyrights

There are a number of standard form contracts for photographers.

When it comes to the “copyright issues” here are three examples:


FILM and COPYRIGHTS: The photographs produced by the COMPANY are protected by Federal Copyright Law (all rights reserved) and may not be reproduced in any manner without the COMPANY’s explicitly written permission. If the CLIENT has purchased an “Image DVD” from the COMPANY, upon final payment by the CLIENT, limited copyright ownership of the resulting images will be transferred to the CLIENT.  If the CLIENT has purchased an “Image DVD” from the COMPANY, the COMPANY grants the CLIENT permission to share the images on social networking websites, with family and friends, and on vendor websites as long as the images remain unaltered and textual credit is explicitly given to the COMPANY. The CLIENT must obtain written permission from the COMPANY prior to publishing or selling the photographs.  


The Photographer retains copyright in the photographs, and hereby grants the Client unlimited but non-exclusive rights to use or reproduce the photographs for which the Client pays.


a.    The Photographer shall own all rights in the Work which shall accrue to the benefit of his/her successors, legal representatives and assigns.

b.    Notwithstanding the above, the following uses are specifically noted and agreed to, and specific exclusions for use listed here shall take precedence and restrict the use of the Work accordingly:

Copyright: Ownership and Use

The photographer “owns” the image and the client has “permission” to use the image.

That is a very consistent message throughout all professional photographers’ contracts. Some are more sophisticated, but the underlying concept is always the same: copyright remains with the author or creator of the image, and that is the photographer.

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker

Comments 2

  1. Can I please share this with Ottawa Real Estate Board? I just discovered that an Agent SOLD my photos from an old listing to a new Agent. No permission from me, the photographer.

    The response from both seasoned Agents – “Realtors do it all the time”

    1. Post

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