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DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> Copyrights agreement in a studio
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03/25/2007 10:10:54 PM · #1
I don't know if anyone here works for a studio (not your own) but I thought I'd inquire and see what kind of answers I could get.

I've been working for a German-owned commercial studio in Shanghai for the last two years. We do a wide range of photography from interiors to products and industrial photography to fashion shoots. Our client list is fairly impressive considering the young age of the studio (Nivea, BASF, Crocs, Philips,...). So, it's only normal that as a photographer working there I'd like to retain some of the images for my portfolio self-promotion later on when I'll move on.

I've been fighting (and arguing) for the last two years to have the right to keep the images I produce once I leave the studio. They have now turned around (somewhat) and asked me to write up a copyright agreement for myself and all photographers in the company.

I do have a few ideas on what I want included but I was wondering if there is anyone on here that works in a studio and has a copyrights agreement with their studio. I'd be interested to see what is included - and even more interested to see what is NOT included.

Please feel free to respond to me off forum since I know these agreements can be extremely private. photojournaliste@gmail.com

03/25/2007 11:45:19 PM · #2
ok, basically what you are looking for (and the most you should reasonably ask for or expect) is written permission to include some specific images in your portfolio. unless you have an employment contract stating otherwise, all the photos produced in the studio are owned outright by the studio--and they are under no obligation whatsoever to share anything with you. the fact that they are even considering giving you anything says that they might be a pretty decent outfit.

you don't want to bite the hand that feeds, nor do they want to lose the investment they've made in getting the studio to where it is talent-wise. that's probably their main motivation to have a conversation. in any event, you should be working on a portfolio that doesn't solely rely on the work you've done at this one studio.

good luck!
03/26/2007 12:07:29 AM · #3
Yes, totally agree on that Skip.

Actually the ownership of images greatly varies of the legal system within which the images were created - in my case I rely on Chinese law and not American, Canadian or German laws. I've already consulted 3 lawyers on my rights and I'm pretty well aware of where I sit on that fence. Since China has no law that directly addresses that issue (as of now) it is quite a debate.

However, that being said I know what foreign laws are on this issue and I have no interest in bringing all this to court. I'd rather like to settle this in a friendly and professional way.

Ideally (in dream land) I'd like access to all the images in jpeg format and a selection of 15 images per year I worked there in high resolution.

But, more than the small details of what I want. I'm just interested to see what other agreements look like and what they include - especially in this specific setting of working within a studio that you don't own.
03/26/2007 10:16:32 AM · #4
thought I'd bring this back on top of the list for the people on the other side of the planet... as I'm getting ready for bed!
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