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This comes up often. The client wants to have a copyright release to be able to use the image files they received from their photographer. Generally speaking, few photographers will release their copyright. Most likely, the photographer will grant to the client "Personal Usage Rights".

What this means is that the client can take that disc of image files that they received and make prints for themselves, their friends, use them in thank you cards, make their own albums, etc. Basically, any personal use. What they can't do is sell them commercially. In other words, the bride wouldn't be able to sell an image to David's Bridal for example for them to use in an ad campaign without the photographers permission.

Photographers work very hard to create their images, and if they fully gave up their copyright, they wouldn't be able to use those images in their sample albums, brochures, websites or even show to a prospective bride. If a photographer does agree to release their copyright, it's usually at an additional fee as they're giving up all rights to that image, how it's used, and by whom.

99% of the time Personal Usage Rights are all that the client will ever need. And should the need arise that somehow the client does need the full copyright, most of the time that can be negotiated with the photographer.

Copyright Release and Personal Usage Rights...two different things.

Be sure you get a letter of some kind from your photographer that says you're allowed to print from the disc. Some photo labs will check to see if in fact you do have permission, and a letter will satisfy them. The labs need to protect themselves in such matters. If they knowingly print copyright protected material...the civil and criminal penalties can be huge for them.

Hopefully this information was helpful.