This is the first of several in a series on copyright, as it stands in the US, and how it affects photographers.
Part One – The basics.
Photography is copyrighted intellectual property, just like books, music and software. Like musicians, authors and filmmakers, photographers are paid a fee for creating the work and then residuals or royalties for the subsequent use of those works. An artist’s ability to profit from their creations is a Constitutional right, Article 1, Section 8:
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
Not to get too political here, but… The framers realized that a stable and prosperous society is aided by the ability of the innovative and inventive to profit from their innovations and inventions. This may all seem like political mumbo jumbo, but in the face of those who think copyright is a hindrance to free expression (if you liked Napster, this means you) it’s an important rebuttal. Without the profit motive to, well, motivate us, why create.