What the law forsees

Why the photographer that I hired for my marriage/ familly event has rights on my photos?

Photography, like any intellectual creation, is not considered to be like any other product (Article L. 111.3 of the French Code of Intellectual Property) but is subject to copyright law protection. Therefore as an original work, it is subject to a specific legal protection under the Code of Intellectual Property. The Code of Intellectual Property, gives the author a bundle of rights to profit from the exploitation of their creation. The work is protected since its inception and its author enjoys protection of economical and moral nature. The author of the work is the only person authorized to communicate the work to the public as well as exploit the work and any use from third parties must be expressly authorized by him.
In simple terms, the couple does not pay the photographer to take the photographs, but they pay for the right to use them. And, that’s because we cannot buy one’s ability, skill, aesthetics or point of view, simply because these are not products, but characteristics of one’s personality.
On the other hand, the couple can choose the way someone sees and capture things in order to preserve the memory of its wedding or the baptism of their child. This means that the photographer does not “sell” the pictures, but the license for a specific use of the pictures for an agreed fee.

What are my rights as represented in the photos? Does the photographer have the right, even without permission from the couple to use these photos for commercial or promotional purposes? Is he entitled, for example, to publish photos of the couple on his website or in a magazine add and if so, under what conditions?

In order to use the photograph of a person, the photographer must obtain the permission of the person represented. This right has its legal basis on the “publicity right” which is described in the art .9 of the French Civil Code: “Everyone has the right to protect his private life.” The couple agreed to be photographed for a specific purpose, the preservation of the memory of their marriage for a personal use. Therefore, the photographer cannot use these photos in publications on wedding magazines, for example, or to display them in a public or private place without the knowledge and express permission of the represented. All this must be clearly defined in the contract, leaving the choice to the couple in order to protect them as consumer, but also for avoiding the creation of any adverse conditions for the professional, by referring to not well specified terms of commitments.

Is the photographer obligated to deliver the original RAW files ?

No. The photographer is only obliged to deliver the final images and not the original files. He has the ability to deliver the originals if agreed, accompanied by a written authorization describing the rights given to the couple for a specific usage of his photos and under what conditions. For example, if the photographer delivers the original files with a permission to print for personal use, the couple can only use them strictly for this use. Some consider that a transfer of some rights on the use of the photos overrides the copyright of the photographer on the originals. These actions are not consistent with the Intellectual Property Code that makes a clear distinction between personal property (property of the original) and intangible property (rights over the work). This means that when the author gives some rights on his work, he still remains the owner and author of the original works.

Can the couple/client post pictures of their wedding/event on the internet, on blogs and social networks without the permission of the photographer?

No. Any use, reproduction, display or upload of photographs on blogs and social networking sites like Facebook without the express permission of the author is illegal and legally provides for criminal and civil penalties. The photographs can be legally used by third parties only after the photographer’s permission. However, even after the permission of the author for a specific use, the copyrights credits attribution to each use of the photographs is required by Article L.121-1 of the Code of Intellectual Property. The allocation of the copyrights credits to each use of the photographs (the so-called “moral right”) is required even if the photographer has given some of his rights.

How Picturing Love works

To ensure a successful partnership between photographer and couple/client, Picturing Love offers the following conditions:

The photographer is bound to deliver to the couple/client, at the agreed price, the high-resolution files with permission for personal use only, without any specific time limit during this grant permission. In addition, the photographer, as a gesture of goodwill and understanding of the need for communication nowdays on social media, allows the reproduction only of the low-resolution images with the obligation of the reference his name in each broadcast with the following format:
© Zoi Psaroudaki / www.picturing-love.com
Only in cases where the photographer’s name already appears on the photograph, no further mention of this name is necessary.

The couple/client gives his permission to use its photos in all photographers’ advertising publications in order to promote his work. Examples of this use are: communicating the photos on professional sites on the web, in social networks such as Facebook, in brochures and business cards, in advertisements on the Internet and print media. 
These terms describe in a general and non-exhaustive way the conditions and basic obligations of both sides. The conditions are set out in detail and completed in the contract to be signed. In case to a strong opposition to these, Project Wedding Photo is always receptive to clarify and negotiate in a context of respect and mutual understanding between the two parties. 
Christelle Capo Chichi, Isabelle DURAND,
Guide Juridique de l’Image,
Editions Ryramid, Paris, 2009.
UPP: www.upp-auteurs.fr/profession_photographe.php?section=juridique
Doctorante en Droit, Université de Paris II Panthéon-Assas.
✉ alex.giannopoulou@gmail.com

Avocate specialisée en Propriété Intellectuelle.
✉ joanna_aliberti@yahoo.com