THE USE OF PHOTOS IN THE LIGHT OF COPYRIGHTS

If you plan a publication (for example an article, post on a blog, brochure) in which you would like to include photos, it is essential to remember about provisions of Act of 4 January 1994 on Copyrights and Related Rights.

Taking into consideration provisions of copyrights law the following situations are possible:

  1. A person who is planning a publication holds copyrights in photos or is granted a license to use them.

If the scope of transferred rights or license allows using photos in a planned way, there are no legal obstacles. The matter of remuneration depends on the agreement between parties. If the contract does not indicate whether the transfer of the author’s economic rights or the granting of license was free of charge, the author shall have the right to remuneration. (Article 43 paragraph 1 of Act on Copyrights and Related Rights).

  1. A third party holds copyrights in photos.

In such case it would be necessary to enter into a license agreement or an agreement which will transfer economic copyrights to the extent that will make the use of photos possible. As it is stated above, the matter of remuneration depends on parties’ arrangements.

  1. Photos are available under a free license.

It is possible that the author of photos will make them available to the public on the grounds of so called free license, which may allow to use these photos free of charge. In such case, it is essential to make sure what kind of use is granted under the license and check whether there are any special requirements. Such photos can be found for example in free photo bases on the Internet.

  1. Photos to which the copyrights have expired.

The economic copyrights expire usually within 70 years after the author’s death (Article 36 point 1 of Act on Copyrights and Related Rights), unless the Act states otherwise. It means that in case of old photos it is possible that they are already in the public domain and therefore they can be used free of charge.

Keep in mind that authors of photos should generally be credited.

To sum up, whenever photos suitable for users’ needs are chosen, it should be established who holds copyright in them. If those rights have not expired or photos were not made available on the grounds of free license, entering into the license agreement or an agreement including transfer of these rights is necessary. The procedure will generally depend on the findings made for each photo. It is also possible to conclude a contract with a particular photographer and then purchase the copyright to photos taken by him or licensing them, as well as the use of photo base in the Internet.