Copyright and Moral Rights

What is Copyright?

•The right to authorise or restrict the making of copies
•An author’s right and a property right
•A human right
•A collection of rights
3 P’s: Payment, Protection, Permission.

Through copyright a photographer can protect their photographs against unauthorised copying and by permitting and restricting use of their photographs they can also get payment from users.

Copyright is a human right.

In 1988 a law was created, the ‘Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988′.

This enabled not only artistic works, but photography to be protected by copyright also.

The law states;  “photograph” means a recording of light or other radiation on any medium on which an image is produced or from which an image may by any means be produced, and which is not part of a film.’  And, ‘A still from a film or screen grab is not protected by copyright law as a photograph.  It is protected as part of a film and the director and producer are its authors and first owners of the copyright.’

Who holds the right of an image?

‘The author of a photograph is the creator of the work. This term applies to creators of every sort of protected work not just writers. In the case of a photograph, the author is the photographer, not the assistant that loads the film and may even press the button on the camera, nor the art director who came up with the initial concept, nor the stylist. Employed photographers do not hold the copyright of any work produced ‘in the course of their employment’.  Instead copyright is owned by the employer.’

‘An employed person is generally taken to be someone who works under a contract of employment whose Tax and National Insurance contributions are deducted before receipt and whose employee contributions are paid by their employer.’

Another law made was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 27 states;

‘Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which they are author.’ Also, ‘Everyone has the right to freely participate in the culture of the community to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.’

Copyright is strictly important when creating new business’s and ideas. But you must remember, ideas are not protected by copyright! 

Photographers should never refer to their digital images as ‘computer generated’. This has become an issue over time and the term ‘computer generated work’ has a special meaning in UK copyright law.  It is work generated by a computer with no human author.  The first owner of copyright in such work is the ‘person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken’.

Moral Rights in detail:

  • The Attribution Right:  it is the photographer’s right to have to have their name appear alongside their photograph when ever it appears.  This right applies when a photograph is published; when it is exhibited in public; when it is broadcast; or when it appears in a film.  This right must be asserted in writing before it applies.
  • The Integrity Right: it is the photographer’s right to prevent a work being mistreated, but it is qualified by the fact that it only applies to ‘treatments’ of the work which are damaging to the honour of the photographer.  This is an automatic right and does not need to be asserted.
  • The False Attribution Right:  this right does not just belong to the author but to anyone who has work attributed to them.  It can be useful if a photographer finds his or her name on someone else’s work for example if an advertiser wishes to use the photographer’s name to endorse a product without consent.  This right is automatic and does not need to be asserted.
  • The Privacy Right:  there is no general law of privacy in the UK.  This is way to control the dissemination and publication of private photographs.  This applies to commissions for ‘private and domestic purposes for example wedding photographs (and sex tapes).

(Information from Uni Lecture powerpoint)


You should always make sure to sign a model/photo release.

Example below:

model release

After looking at the Government Website ,, it allowed us to understand information about Copyright in the UK.


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