The communication industry in this region is evolving to be a very visual one. Now, more than ever, people are using images in campaigns, on social media, and other numerous platforms. It helps put a “face to the brand”, and can also aid corporations and international brands in appearing more human to their consumers. Discussing the topic of intellectual property is important to both creatives in the photography field and innovators in the creative industry in general.  Nations, industries, and even individuals thrive when creativity thrives, and they also suffer when creativity suffers. That is why it is essential for both parties to be on the same page when it comes to the rights and obligations they need to abide by in their day to day dealings. This subject has always intrigued me as a photographer, and I am sharing my thoughts with you in the hopes that it will help shed some light on the issue of intellectual property, as a lot of agreements are often misconstrued, and not all creatives are aware of the rights they have towards their own creations. I feel that the industry may suffer due to the lack of understanding of the rights and obligations on both sides.

  1. Commissioning work and owning it are two different things.

Commissioning creative work and owning it are not the same thing. When a photographer is commissioned to work on a shoot for someone, he is licensing his creation (to some extent,) to the buyer. This does not mean that the buyer has the right to re-license the work, transfer ownership, or even use it freely.

It is important that both the photographer and the buyer know this, as it will help both of them.  The advantage for the photographer is that he will be compensated adequately for the work he has created, and the advantage for the buyer is that he will keep a positive, flourishing relationship with the photographer.

  1. Licensing is for the buyer and the buyer only. Re-licensing is a must when numerous uses are involved.

When a photographer licenses images to a buyer, they are giving the buyer the rights to using that image. This means that the buyer should not share that image with any other third parties. The same also applies to buying a software program, where you do not have the right to copy and re-distribute the program to other parties for profit or otherwise.

As for re-licensing, it is only fair to say that the channels and reach of a certain campaign also play a huge role in the price of the image. Is it not fair to say that an image that makes it on a magazine with low circulation vs. an image that has been plastered on every billboard in the city needs to be compensated for differently? I think so.

The advantage to the photographer is that he or she will feel that there is merit in all of their dedication towards making a living out of their life’s passion. This will only encourage them to come up with more creative and ground-breaking work. The advantage to the buyer is that not only will he or she have an impactful campaign, but also that the photographer may help advise as to whether the same image works on multiple channels or whether other images may help serve the ultimate communication purpose better. A win-win for both, if you ask me!

  1. Breaching intellectual property rights could leave us in a status-quo

When photographers, artists, musicians, novelists, or any type of creators are not compensated fairly for their own creations, the general spirit towards the work itself becomes a de-motivated one. Since they feel that it is unviable for them to make a living out of what they do, the quality will deteriorate, and this could be detrimental to the future of the industry and creativity in the region. The creative work will stop appearing as an appealing method to make a sustainable living.

  1. “Royalty-free” who?

One cannot compare the images that come from royalty free websites to those created by a passionate photographer who is in touch with the brand itself. Placing these two scenarios in the same category is equivalent to comparing a mass-produced basic t-shirt to a bespoke suit.

  1. Know your rights, and share them.

Independent creatives should also be aware that they have autonomic ownership of the work they produce, and it is protected by the law. This is a point I feel many people I talk to in the industry do not comprehend or are not aware of. The burden falls on both the creators and the buyers to be aware of the moral and legal rights that come along with their creations. They both should work hand in hand to help each other excel, and keep the creative juices flowing in our community.

Are there any points you would like to add to this manifesto from other IP experiences you’ve encountered? Please share them!

Should you wish to contact me for a photoshoot or to learn more about the services I offer, please don’t hesitate to reach out on  

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