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Understanding Copyright – As an Indian Photographer




To a photographer, photos might be some of their most prized possessions. It is very important to know the legal rights of your artwork so that it is not used anywhere without your permission. When your images are being used without your permission, or without giving you the credit that you deserve, you can take legal action.

Knowing your rights and the laws related to photography is a must in your career as a photographer in India. Hence it becomes very important to understand a few basics when it comes to copyrights. What exactly are they, how are they infringed, are there any laws in India for them, and so on.

Disclaimer: We are not lawyers! The best, most thorough information you can get is from a law firm. Here’s a great article from a law firm on copyright law in India seem to have a great explanation, if you want to go into detail. We’re here to provide a summary from a photographer’s perspective.

What is Copyright?

The legal right to intellectual property is known as a copyright. This can include literature, music, video, design, and photography, among other things. Copyright takes effect when a work is created, and the owner is the creator of the work and has the authority to give legal rights to others. You click a picture, now you have the ownership of it. You have its copyright. You can publish it, print it howsoever and in whatever way you like. If you come across someone using that image without your permission, that means your copyright has been infringed.

Licensing vs copyright

These two terms are often used interchangeably by people without knowing the exact meaning and difference between them. When you click an image, it belongs to you. The copyright of that photo belongs to you. Nobody can use it without your permission.

However, licensing is a method of allowing someone to use your image without impacting the image’s ownership. The licensing agreement can vary according to the use and the amount of control you wish to pertain. You can license your image to someone for a specific use and time or can give them broad usage rights. It is completely up to you. You can even upload your work on stock photography sites like IndieVisual, where the buyer gets the license to use it and you get paid for every download.

What does the law say?

Indian Copyrights Law, 1957 protects the photographers against copyright infringement. The images are assigned copyrights for a term of nearly 60 years from the day they are published, according to section 25 of the copyright legislation. The publication encompasses more than just publication in a magazine or newspaper; it encompasses everything. Every Photographer has rights over their work. They can create, adapt, and publish their work anywhere they wish. If you ask someone to pose for your photograph, and no agreement is signed between you two, you will have to ask for their consent when it comes to publishing that photograph. Without their consent, you will not be able to publish that photograph.

Here are some pointers for you to remember when it comes to copyrights:

  • Whenever you shoot an image, it belongs to you. You are the owner of that image.

  • The only exception is when you are hired to click photographs for your client, then the ownership of the image belongs to them according to the contracts signed.

  • The laws are not confined to professional photographers only. Even people who wish to pursue it as a hobby can challenge their photographs being misused.

  • It is not always mandatory to get your images registered. Even if you don’t, the ownership of the image shall belong to you. Copyright is generated the moment the work is created.

This is some info that photographers should keep in mind when it comes to copyrights. So, whenever you find that your images have been misused without your permission, you can always take legal action and safeguard your images and rights.

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