Copyright Awareness For The Photo Artist and Scrapbooker


Learn the basics of photo copyrights to be sure that all your scrapbooking and photo projects are made with the proper legal permissions.

Copyright Awareness For The Photo Artist & Scrapbooker

At some point, you will need to copy some of your photographs for preservation purposes. These are usually older photos that no longer have a negative. Remember, you never want to crop or permanently adhere any photo that doesn’t have a negative. You’ll want to safely store the original in an acid-free environment and only use copies of the photo for your scrapbook pages.

When you have copies of photos made at photo centers the professional staff can make you aware that copyright laws protect certain photos, but when you are printing photos at home it may not cross your mind that you are violating these laws. With few exceptions, all professionally shot photographs may not be copied without permission from the professional photographer who took the photos. Some professional photographers do include a set of negatives with their paid service, but most do not. If you are given the negatives you are given the right to make copies.

Some situations call for hiring a professional photographer—and a professional photographer is worth every penny. You don’t have to worry if you’ll get good pictures. You don’t have to worry that the groom’s head will just be out of the frame or that your finger blocked the flash. Take the time to ask up front the cost of reprints or additional prints you feel you might need for your scrapbooking. Make sure you set aside some of your budget for the photographs.

To avoid copyright problems altogether with professional photographers, take your own photos. Place disposable cameras on the table at a wedding, or ask several friends to take photos at the wedding for you. Learn to take casual head shots of your children for scrapbooking, saving the professional shots for framed presentations.

Some older photographs taken by professionals may no longer have copyright protection. If photos are over 75 years old, generally the copyright has expired. A professional photographer or photo printing shop will be able to help you determine if your photo falls into this category. Many times the photographer and/or his business are no longer available. Better safe than sorry. Try to locate the photographer and/or business. You can learn more about copyright protection and laws by contacting the Library of Congress:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
(202) 707-3000

By: Maria Nerius
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