A primer for photojournalists on copyright and rights

U.S. Constitution
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8

The Congress shall have power ... to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries....

Copyright laws are the foundation for protecting the image rights for any photojournalist. These laws give individual photographers the same protection that any corporation has over its intellectual property assets. However, understanding copyright law is just a starting point. Only after photojournalists have agreed to terms and fees can someone use their images. Why this matters»

Photographs are protected under copyright laws the moment they are created and the copyright becomes the property of the author who created the work. No publication or registration or other action is required to secure a copyright. However, registration has distinct legal advantages if you find yourself in a court of law trying to recover damages. Copyright primer»

Every day, photographers take on free-lance assignments or start new jobs. Both arrangements have their advantages, but knowing how to negotiate a contract and options you have available will help both the photographer and prospective employer get a mutually beneficial arrangement. FAQ»

This publication could not have been produced without the assistance, comments and content from:

  • Brian Alpert

  • Tim Baker

  • George Bridges

  • David Cantor

  • Alan Carey

  • Ken Cedeno

  • Michel duCille

  • Jim Graham

  • Dirck Halstead

  • David Handschuh

  • Mike Harmon

  • Kevin Larkin

  • Vickie Lewis

  • Pete Souza

  • Joe Traver

  • Steve Warmowski

  • Bradley Wilson

  • Kurt Wimmer

    The National Press Photographers Association
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    Durham, NC 27705
    fax: 919/383-7261
    [email protected]

The National Press Photographers Association is an educational organization dedicated to the advancement of photojournalism. Membership is open to still and video photojournalists or others whose occupation has a direct professional relationship with photojournalism. Material contained in this publication may be reprinted with written permission from the NPPA and an appropriate credit.