Copyright protects creative works that are fixed in a medium of expression. In order for your work to be protected, it has to be expressed on paper or any other physical or electronic format like a book or CD. Works eligible for protection generally include literary, musical, artistic, cinematography, sound recordings, broadcast and architectural works amongst others. Copyright attaches to a work automatically the moment it is recorded. Copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years after the creator dies. Copyright comes with a set of exclusive rights. The rights that come with copyright are:

• The right to publish;
• The right to perform (Communicate in public);
• The right to reproduce;
• The right to distribute copies.

A copyright holder may transfer the rights usually through a contract by way of license or assignment.

A photographer has copyright in the photos taken by him or her. He is free to sell them,

publish them, photoshop them, and in some cases freely share them.

You do not have rights over the photographs taken of your event except there was an agreement stipulating you do prior to the event. Some people believe that because they are the subjects of the photos, or because they are the ones who hired the photographer, then they are the ones who hold the copyright in the photos. This view is not correct. The Photographer has exclusive rights in the photographs he has taken with your consent.

As earlier mentioned, the contract you sign when you hire your photographer is important. Most wedding photographers keep the copyright in the photos they take of weddings, whether they are aware or not. They however, give clients expressly or impliedly a license to make personal, non- commercial uses of the photos. For instance, photographers offer a CD or DVD containing the files of all pictures taken. This transfer of CD or DVD means the client can print copies, post copies on Facebook, and send them to friends, without asking for permission and without violating the photographer’s copyright.

You cannot claim rights over your photograph taken at any wedding or other events. This rule is no one has rights to use any photos made by someone else, regardless of being in the photo or not. The original photographer has the copyright and is not required to allow use by others.

However, a person has the right to prevent the photo being used to promote commercial interest or endorse a commercial product unless by permission or consent. The photographer can still use it in any other way, including selling the image to others (or even to you).

Photographers thrive in the selling of photos they have taken at a wedding to the bride,

groom, family and guests. They legally do so because of their right in the photographs. If you use their photos without permission you are both making an illegal copyright infringement and undercutting the business of the photographer.

Display of photographs can implicate what is known as publicity rights. The right of an individual to control the commercial use of his or her name, image, likeness, or other aspects of one’s identity is called publicity rights. It is generally considered a property right as opposed to a personal right. More will be discussed on Publicity Rights in the next edition and at the L & A Round Table.