I have recently been asked by some photographers to retouch photos for them. I’m thinking of adding this option to my services. What are the legal issues with retouching other photographers original images? I have been telling the photographers to credit me for the retouching work only and NOT the photography (Even when I was shooting and arranging the products… I am a person who likes to get involved in any project) They had quite a wary attitude that I couldn´t understand…
The copyright to intellectual property covers the original work and “derivative works”. An edited or retouched photo is a derivative work. In almost al parts the Copyright Act defines “derivative work” as a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.
So they actually don´t lose anything but yet they ignored to credit me and I was not allowed to use the images for portfolio purposes and with portfolio purposes I mean a watermarked low resolution “before and after” image.
So after some months of intensive christmas product photography and retouching for various catalogs before getting payed I was asked to sign an agreement and I can asure you that this whole experience has been very, very unusual.
As I could not follow their line of thoughts I was quite surprised when they imposed this particular conditions after having finished the work and not before.