Print Release vs Copyright Release

There is one question that we receive from clients that stands out among the rest: “Do I get the copyright to my images?” (or a variation on that question.) Usually, this is simply a misunderstanding on the part of the client as to what “copyright” truly entails. Unfortunately, the general public has been conditioned to ask for a copyright release when what they actually mean is a “print release”. What doesn’t help is that many professional photographers commonly make the mistake of using the term “copyright release” in their contracts or release forms. For a little bit of education, a copyright release transfers total ownership of an image from the photographer-artist to the assignee (in most cases, the client.) Once ownership has been transferred away from the photographer, not only do I lose control over where and how it is used and displayed, but I can no longer use the image(s) in my portfolio, including on the website, blog, etc. Distributing copyright release is senseless for most photographers, who want to share their images.

A print release will cover nearly any imaginable client need, and allows the photographer – in this case, Kyle Hansen – to preserve the photography as it was intended. Protecting the integrity of our work and creative process is very important to us,and photographers in general. A print release allows the client to print the images for personal use (such as display in your home, scrapbooking, etc) and to share online in places such as Facebook and personal blogs. Print your photos as many times as you like (though we cannot guarantee results if you use a consumer photo lab). As long as the printed images are for your own use.

What a print release does not allow: editing the image in any way, selling the image, using the image without permission from the photographer in marketing/contests/commercial work, etc. (For the full text of my print release, please refer to your portrait agreement or contact me directly.) You hired me for the style of my images, so it is important that they are not altered in any way. A print release gives the client exactly what they need and want – the ability to enjoy finished portraits for a lifetime!

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