How to Sell Photos: Legal Issues

So, you want to Sell Photos? Great! This is a fantastic way for any professional photographer to make some extra money. You can sell everything from portraits of loved ones, to landscapes. Before you begin to sell your photos, you should be aware of the legal issues involved. In order to avoid legal hassles, follow these simple steps.

Materials You Will Need

  • Pen and paper
  • Photo Permission Release
  • A Copyright or Contracts Attorney
  • Filing Cabinet
  • CDs or Photo Paper

Step 1 - Ask Permission

When you take a photo, especially if you intend to sell it as a work of art, you must first ask permission. Photographs of people, landcapes, property, even landmarks all require some sort of permission.

Step 2 - Draft a Release

Hire a Copyright and Permission Release Attorney to draft documents that grant you permission to take photographs for resale purposes. Do not try and do this yourself, or simply print something off the internet. These documents need to be handled by a professional attorney who knows the law. The following information is important to know.

Work is Copy Written: Most works of art are protected by copywrite. In addition, buildings that have been erected after December 1st 1990 are also protected under this law. Copyrights protect the 'creator' or the 'artist' from reproductions of their work of art. A photograph is considered a reproduction of this work, and is therefore protected When in doubt, veer on the safe side and get permission.

Step 3 - Get Your Legal Documents Signed

If you are reproducing photos of people, simply as their permission to sell your prints. However, make sure they commit to this in writing.  Ask them to sign off on your waivers and copyright material, as to avoid any future confusion.

Step 4 - File All Your Records Away

File all your waivers and release paperwork away in a locked and protected filing cabinet. Make a file for each individual waiver and release you have signed. Attach a copy of your photos, or a copy of a disc that holds the photos pertaining to the release. This will save you a headache in the long run. If someone asks you to justify the sale of your photos, and the rights you have acquired or obtained, you can easily retrieve your release paperwork and show them both the signed copy and a copy of the pictures that are protected by the release. This is important, because unless you can easily recover your documentation, they are of no benefit.

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