Various Image Ownership Rights Terms Explained

There are many opportunities for selling your photographs and it’s best to always be clear with buyers regarding ownership rights. Your photos can be used by a worldwide circulated magazine or by excited newlyweds, and for every time you sell your work, you might want to specify in your contract the extent of the buyer’s privileges in using your images. Here are various definitions of ownership rights that you can familiarize yourself with:

1. Exclusive Photo Rights – this means the buyer has sole privileges to your image and no one else can benefit from it. The degree of this exclusivity can be further differentiated in a particular target market and depending on the agreement, arrangements can be made to allow you to have more control over how the image is used. For instance, a wildlife magazine purchases exclusive rights to your image and you may not be permitted to sell it to magazines with a similar target readership. However, you may still be able to promote the photograph to a different, non-related niche.

2. One Time/Lease Rights – in this scenario, you image may be used only within a certain time period, or for an agreed amount of exposure.

3. Electronic or Online Media Rights – Your images can be integrated in digital format such as in a CD or DVD, or be viewed in a media website. You might find it beneficial to insert digital metadata in your images. 

4. Transfer Rights – you can turn over your image’s copyright to another person.  Be wary of the fine print in some buyer contracts, some of them may have hidden clauses that you are not initially aware of. Also be aware of copyright renewals. 

5. First Rights – the buyer has rights to your photograph for only one time and often pays extra to obtain the privilege to having first dibs to presenting your image.

6. Print Rights – Your pictures may be accessible by way of conventional print media.

7. All Rights – You permanently give up all rights or semblance of ownership to your photographs, or for a certain amount of time.

8. Work for Hire – this means the images you capture in relation to the job description are owned by your employer, either automatically, or as specified in the terms of agreement. If you consent to Work for Hire, try to reach a deal with the buyer to compensate for surrendering your photography ownership rights.


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