A guide to UK Photography copyright and the UK European copyright  Designs and Patents Act  1988.


The 1988 Copyright, for Designs, and Patents Act synchronises UK copyright law with the rest of Europe. THIS IS A GUIDE ONLY. There may be further revision to this european copyright for Photographers.

The European (and UK) law specifically state that:

1 Copyright arises automatically when an artistic work is created, (or recorded). This includes digital copying and applies to Photography copyright. i.e. As an 'author' or creator of the image you claim 'copyright'.

2. Copyright is 'negative' in that it gives the copyright holder the right to stop anyone else using, reproducing, adapting or changing the work.
i.e. You could stop someone else from using your work, if it 'infringes' your copyright.

3. The copyright holder can allow (or license) other people to use the work for a consideration or assign the 'rights-to-use' copyright entirely, (
say to an another person). i.e. Photographs in your possession may need permission to reproduce or make copies.

4. If the producer(s) of the work is commissioned to make a piece of work, then the copyright belongs to them unless the work is assigned
(with copyright) in it's entirety. i.e. Photographs in your possession may need permission if you are not the photographer.

5. Where the work arises as the result of full-time employment, (Magazine Photographers), the employer owns the copyright of your work.
i.e. They can be your photographs (but you have no copyright so you should not reproduce them without permission).

6. An idea, cannot be copyrighted, only the
actual, recorded (read 'photographed') work.

i.e. As a photographer you cannot lay claim to a 'conceptual idea' photo if someone else already has created it.

7. You have a number of moral rights: these include (a) the right to be credited as the producer (or Photographer), (b) The right to not have your work published, (c) altered or distorted. These right are
not automatic - in as much as you have to assert them yourself. i.e. It is up to you to insist on copyright and authorship, when you need to.

So, in brief:
a) When you do not have any idea as to who owns what image, you still have to have 'copyright' from whatever source you found the image, which includes all those you find on the INTERNET. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE PHOTOGRAPH! The rights to all such images are retained by the author who may assign copyright or ask you that you must first obtain his or her permission. (Often 'Free' has limits, which may mean that you can use them yourself BUT not for 'reproduction' or 'compilation' or for 'hire' or 'reward' commercially). Beware the use of the term 'free'. Free to use is not totally free for reproduction, unless you have expressly sought 'copyright' and have permission.

Not a good idea to embarrass a company with photographs that you claim are yours when they are not. You could be sued!

Just because you took the photograph, does not give you the automatic right of 'copyright'. Check first with your employer if you are in full time employment.

Copyright exists on a number of fronts, (not just in Photography), so beware any obvious traps and seek specialist help if this is an issue that concerns you.

(e) We at can only print photographs that you personally have the 'rights-to-use' and have the consent of the owner for reproduction of the image(s).

If in doubt consult a copyright specialist, we can only guide you through what is acceptable and what is not from our point of view and understanding of the law. The law which protects authorship of Artists and Photographers, however there is no 'ombudsman' or authority protecting your work. It can be very difficult to enforce and impossible to trace. Electronic 'tagging' of photographs is possible via a 'watermark' should the need to do so. It is much better to make yourself aware, and insist on copyright ownership when you offer your images to a third party.

We will always acknowledge your rights as a Photographer.

We do not claim absolute authority on legal issues and this page is a guide to a complex subject but the idea behind it is simple and easy to understand, although those who freely 'copy' other works on the internet are indifferent, the law is on your side if you choose to do anything about it
Copyright 2007 Art Services


Our helpful INFORMATION Guides:

(1) A guide to UK and EU Copyright
(2) A
Glossary of Photographic terminology
(3) A guide to Photo resolution
A guide to perceptive colour
(5) A guide to internet security
(6) A guide to zero VAT printed items
(7) A guide to the print processes
A guide to Latin publishing terms
(9) A
guide to Economical (Euro) paper sizes
A guide to simple logic based games!