In the world of wedding planning, there are so many details to attend to, and so many new experiences to be had. One of the first things you’ll come to realize when you’re starting to reach out to potential vendors (like photographers, hiiiiiii!), is the fact that terms that an industry professional may be familiar with are thrown around, and you, my beautiful potential bride, may not know precisely what everything means.
So What Are Print Rights?
When I meet with couples to discuss the packages I offer and what’s included in them, one of the more ambiguous terms I often talk about is “print rights.” Simply put, print rights offer my couples the ability to download all of their edited jpegs (in high resolution) from their big day, to store, share, or print whenever they please.
Print rights are obviously important to couples because it adds the benefit of being able to store your high-resolution images to access at any time, instead of going through your photographer to obtain digital or tangible copies.
Print rights are also helpful because many consumer print labs (like Walgreens, Walmart, or Costco) will often not print copies of photos that look to be taken by a professional photographer, unless the couple has a release from the photographer stating that they do, in fact, own the print rights.
Print Rights vs. Copyrights
When couples inquire with me, they often ask about owning the “copyrights” to the photos. There is a big distinction between “print rights” and “copyrights,” and us photographers are quick to correct folks who accidentally use the wrong term in the wrong context.
Where print rights give couples the ability to print, share, and store their photos whenever and wherever they want, owning the copyright to photos is something very different.
In U.S. law, the copyright to a photo is created the moment a photographer clicks the shutter button on a camera. Owning the copyright to photos gives the photographer the right to proudly proclaim, “I took that picture!” When a person owns the copyright to something, that means they’re the only person allowed to alter, edit, or change the original work in any way. This means that the photographer who created the photograph is the only one who can crop, color-correct, or photoshop it. Owning the copyright also offers the photographer who took it protections against online photo theft, and publications or individuals using photos without permission.
I believe that most times when couples inquire about owning the copyright to photos, what they’re really referring to, unknowingly, is owning the print rights.
Luckily, many of my packages include the purchase of print rights, and couples also have the option of adding print rights to their package a la carte at a later date.