Copyright Law and Photographers in Australia | Foundd Legal

Copyright Law and Photographers in Australia

Savvy snappers and snap enthusiasts! 

Let’s talk copyright law when it comes to pics taken Down Under. Not like that… 

So, you've just captured that perfect sunrise or nailed the elusive shot of a cat doing something funny enough to break the internet. But hold up!  

Did you know that in Australia, once you click the shutter button, you own the rights to that pic? You're the photo monarch. The pixel Picasso. The copyright custodian. 

Now, why does this matter? Because there’s a flipside.  

Imagine this: you find the ideal photo for your website or ad campaign, and just when you're about to make it the star of the landing page, reality hits. You can't use it without the original photographer’s permission. And if the photographer says it’s a no-go, you’ve gotta start from scratch. 

So, what’s a business to do? And what if you’re a photographer looking to make some extra buck from your snaps? 

The Humble Stock Image  

Enter stage left: stock images. These are the unsung heroes of the copyright maze.  

Need a pic for your blog? Grab a stock image. Cooking up a snazzy ad campaign? Stock images to the rescue.  

Stock images are photos that businesses can buy and use without having to get permish from the photographer, but a heads up: they’re not free. 

Here's your navigation guide for the buffet of free-for-all pixels: 

  • Royalty-Free Images: These are the all-you-can-eat of stock images. Pay once, use ‘em forever. No extra royalties required, but this also means that any other biz that’s happy to pay up has full rights over the same photo. 
  • Rights-Managed Images: This is a one payment, one project deal. You pay based on usage – the more exposure, the heftier the bill. The good news is that you have an option to pay for exclusive rights to your piccies with this option. 
  • Extended Licences: Want to use that image on a T-shirt, a mug, or maybe a skywriting campaign? You'll need the extended licence for unlimited impressions. 

Of course, stock images have a reputation.They can be a tad generic, a smidge too polished, and just a little too "stock-y" looking. So what else is out there? 

What’s another solution? 

You might be keen on going the Creative Commons route instead. 

Creative Commons is a non-profit whose aim is to make sure more people can find and use creative stuff. Photographers can release their pics under a special licence that allows businesses to use ‘em for free.  

There are a range of different licences available, meaning that content creators still have a say in what happens with their work. 

Businesses can snag these photos without paying an arm and a leg, and photographers get exposure and a nod for their artistic generosity. It's a win-win. 

But a quick heads up! Just because a photographer has given you permission to use their photo, doesn’t mean that all the elements of the pic are cleared of copyright.  

If a branded t-shirt is hanging up in the background of the shot, it’s up to you to do your due diligence to make sure that it’s okay for you to splash that photobomber tee all over the internet. 

This is an upside of stock piccies - their host website does the copyright research for you, before the images even hit the virtual shelves. Also, one royalty-free licence is a lot simpler than making 100% sure that you’ve chosen the best of the 6 available Creative Commons licences for you.  

Plus, stock images are vetted for quality, but there’s no guarantee that your Creative Commons photo will have the desired pixel-count you’re after. 

Making Money with Digital Licensing: Digital ImageLicence Template 

Now, let's flip the lens. If you're the one creating visual poetry with your camera, it's time to cash in on those masterpieces. But you need to make sure you’re signing off on all the right things. 

We’ve laid out a ready-made contract complete with all the bells and whistles, for when you’re ready to start making money from the lens. 

Purchase our Digital Image Licence, fill in the blanks, and your pics are ready to hit the virtual stage. 

Snapping Up 

Navigating the world of copyright as a photographer or a business in Australia may seem like a bit of a copyright headache. 

Stock images and Creative Commons are your best bet as a business, and while both have pluses and minuses, they’re a great place to start if you’re not ready for bespoke photography just yet. 

For photographers, filling out a Digital Image Licence is a chance to showcase your art and cash in through savvy contracting. But if you’ve got more questions, chat with us or join our Legally Legit Lounge. 

Whether you're behind the lens or searching for that perfect image, you can now consider yourself a little more legally legit!  






***Disclaimer. Please read!!***   


This article is for general information purposes only and should be used solely as general guidance. It does not and is not intended to represent legal advice or other professional advice.  


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