Ok.. I've been wanting to put this out here for a while.. I know a lot of you may want to flame me over this, but instead of a knee jerk reaction, how about a reasoned response?
I want to start a discussion on copyright retention on portraiture and understand why we, as general photographers, are so insistent on retaining copyright for images.
I'm not talking about fine art prints. The kind of thing books and magazines buy up, the kind of thing you see on posters or as backdrops etc. I'm not talking about photos of film stars and so on.
I'm talking about general portraiture. I'm talking about wedding photos and family photos where a client has employed you to take their photo. I fail to understand why we, as photographers, insist on retaining copyright. Imagine this: you take your clients photo. You charge them more, but you explain to them that the extra charge is because you are selling them the copyright to the photos you've taken, and because of that you can't guarantee an income from printing the images. Maybe have two pricing scales, one for copyright retained, and one for copyright free images. What happens? Would you lose money? The client might well ask you to print the photos anyway? Would you lose money from sales? Would you be able to claw that back from charging extra for the copyright free images?
I'm not suggesting that this is always the right way to do things, or even that it's ever the right way, I'm just wondering if anyone has ever considered doing things differently, and if so, how did it work out? If not, why not, or are we all being sheep and doing it because everyone else is?
The thing is, I release my images on Flickr with a reasonably easy to remove watermark these days. It wouldn't take much to crop it off.. The reason I do this is for several reasons.. If someone wants my image for a desktop background, they're unlikely to remove it because it's small and unobtrusive. That makes it free advertising. If someone goes to the trouble of cropping off my watermark, what difference does it make if I never find out? The profits from stock agencies are so unbelievably small, it's really not worth getting all sniffy over, not unless my image goes viral and in which case, my data is still buried in the EXIF, again, free advertising.. sure, you can remove that.. But then that's what someone wants to do, a copyright isn't going to make the slightest difference. So finally, what if someone makes a LOT of money from your image? Well, I'm pretty sure a lawyer can make some inroads there.. And who's to say that they would have made that money from your image if it hadn't been stolen.
What I'm saying is simple.. If we continually chase down copyright breaches, if we chase our clients because they scanned their photos and put them on Facebook, aren't we actually doing ourselves a disservice and giving us a bad reputation that might actually drive customers elsewhere? Who wants to be told that they can't do what they want with photgraphs they paid to have taken? Who knows if some guy on the other side of the world won't see a photo you took and find you through the EXIF data and employ you to take photographs of the area you live simply because they like the work you do,and the photo you took landed in their inbox as a part of one of these viral email that's always going round.
Ok, I've had my say.. Your turn.. Keep it civil please, I'm asking a legitimate question, flaming me is not a legitimate answer.