Bitesize Copyright …

BiteSize Copyright 

This is a short guide for our customers on what copyright means and how for us and for you, and just to clarify the idea held by some that , if you have paid for images, you can do what you wish with them.


Copyright is legal right that protects the use of your work once your idea has been physically expressed. The current copyright legislation in the UK is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You can find out more about copyright legislation by visiting the Intellectual Property Office. 

The photographer (Lensi – as the author of the image) owns the copyright to the photographs we produce on any commission. We own them, but you get the right to use them. Hopefully the following scenarios will help you understand this a little more, incase you are currently confused. We will use a lot of analogies with music because this is often easier to understand for most, as the lines of photography increasingly become blurred with more and more people having access to photography, the internet meaning right click has left people thinking that images on the internet are free to use and hobbyist photographers contributing to the idea that images have little of no value by giving them away in all kinds of ways. 

In the same way that musicians control who can reproduce their music, photographers control who can reproduce their images.

Shops, hairdressers and pubs etc all need licences to play music – photographers issue licences to enable people to reproduce their images. 

When you commission us for a piece of work, we will ask you about your intended use for the images, and your paperwork will include details of the licence that is issued with your commission. All our commissions include a licence to reproduce for personal use for personal commission such as a birthday party or wedding; and a licence to reproduce for that sole business for commercial  / corporate commissions, this means that your business can use these images for all your marketing uses.

Let us highlight this with a few examples.

birthday party photography

80th Birthday Party Event Photography by Lensi Photography

We shoot your birthday party, you want to put the images on a Facebook folder – FINE

We shoot your birthday party you want to print images for your living room wall – FINE

We shoot your birthday party  you want to get t-shirts made up with one of the images on and sell them to your followers – NOT FINE

We shoot your birthday party, you want to print some images to give to your grandma – FINE

We shoot your birthday party, you want to give an image to the newspaper to accompany an article about you – YOU WOULD NEED TO APPROACH US TO DISCUSS ADDITIONAL FEES THAT MAY BE DUE.

We shoot your corporate event, you want to put the images on pull up banners, websites, leaflets, other marketing materials that are not for sale – FINE

corporate event photography

corporate event photography

We shoot your corporate event, you want to put the images up on display in your school as wall art – FINE

We shoot your corporate event, you want to give the images to other organisations that were at your event also – NOT FINE, this is classed as relicensing an image, which you do not have the authority to do. It is a bit like renting and apartment from a landlord, then sub renting that to other people … you do not have the authority to do so. It would also be a bit like buying a CD from HMV (if one still exists in your area) then making loads of copies and handing them out to your friends … this is illegal.

We shoot your event and you want to place images in a book that is to be sold to third parties – YOU WOULD NEED TO APPROACH US TO DISCUSS ADDITIONAL FEES THAT MAY BE DUE

We shoot your event and you want to place images in a book that will not be sold to third parties – YOU WOULD NEED TO DISCUSS PERMISSION FOR THIS AT THE BOOKING STAGE.

But We Have Paid for the Photos!

Some of you may still have  a voice inside saying … but we paid for the photos.

You have paid for the photographers time and expertise in producing these images and a number of prints / digital images. The copyright to the photos will remain with the photographer, and therefore any reproduction without permission would be an infringement of copyright. Remember we all buy computer software that we pay for also, if you look carefully our new copy of Windows 28 (or whatever it is on now) will state clearly what you have permission to do with that software. It will state you can install it on four machines, or that you can use it fora  whole college. The usage will effect how much you pay for that exact same software.

Some photographers control the use of their images even further, stating what mediums the images can be reproduced on, this is normally the practice when working with large corporates.

What if I want to use the photos for something else?

Just as if you buy a copy of a book, a song, computer software or a DVD of a film, making that purchase doesn’t give you the right to make copies of it, use it outside the terms of your licence or broadcast it to the public. That right remains with the copyright owner. It is exactly the same with photographs. Photographers will negotiate their own rates or use image calculators such as the one created by The Association of Photographers.


I want full copyright 

Full copyright is very expensive. You have heard about the copyright disputes over the Beatles and Michael Jacksons music catalogue and in most cases in photography, it is not needed. 

Do you plan on making prints of the photos and selling them? Do you plan on placing the images for license on stock agencies? Do you plan on selling them to newspapers or to an artist to be used on an album cover? Do you want to use the images to market another organisation? Has a mysterious buyer approached you who wants to purchase that particular image for more zeros than you can count? If none of this applies to you, you really do not need a full buyout.

Music vs Photography

Microphone by Israel-Palacio

Microphone by Israel-Palacio

Often we understand the copyright issue easier with other mediums because photography has become so available to everyone, the lines get blurred. Let us give you another example : You commission a song writer and music producer to make you a hit record. They do this, it goes to number one, you perform this all over the world, who owns the song and the music? The Beatles will tell you it is not the person who sang the song or even asked for it to be written or produced. Photographs are exactly the same.

So in short, if you commission us for a personal or business / corporate event, our standard licence will cover most of what you need and want to do with the images, you may need to talk to us about any other uses.

Some further sources for reading :