Copyright and Agreements

How does Copyright work?

All creative endeavours undertaken in Australia that produce content of any fixed kind are covered by Copyright Law. Photography and video, such as those produced through TFP arrangements, are no different.

In Australia, copyright law is set out in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). This is federal legislation, and applies throughout Australia. The Copyright Act has been regularly amended since 1968, to bring it up to date with evolving technologies and concerns. In addition to dealing with copyright rights, the Copyright Act also deals with performers’ rights and the “moral rights” of individual creators.

Copyright protection is free and automatic from the time a work is first written down or recorded in some way. You do not apply for copyright in Australia, and there is no system of registration here. Nor are there any forms to fill in, or fees to be paid. You do not need to publish your work, put a copyright notice on it, or do anything else before your work is covered by copyright. For example, as soon as a poem is written, or a photograph is taken, it is protected.

(Source: Australian Copyright Council)

Who owns Copyright in a Photographic project?

Generally speaking, unless otherwise agreed, all copyright in photographs is owned by the person that took the photograph. Exceptions include photographs taken under a contract of employment or commission, though that can be a complicated area.

A copyright owner can grant permission to others to use the work covered by copyright. They can impose limits or restrictions on that usage if they choose, and they can charge for it. They can even choose to sell all rights to another party – that is, they transfer ownership of the copyright to another party.

Whether or not the copyright is left with the photographer or sold on to another party, the photographer continues to retain the right to be acknowledged as the creator of the work.

The Australian Copyright Council provides more information on copyright as it relates to photographs and photographers.

How does copyright work under a TFP arrangement?

TFP is still governed by Copyright law – that is, the photographer retains all copyright in the images.

As a TFP arrangement is designed to benefit all of those who contribute (for self-promotion), a TFP agreement generally includes an implied consent from the copyright owner for others that contributed to use the images for self promotion (but not for profit).

TFP Australia Base Agreement regarding Copyright and Licensing

Unless otherwise agreed to by all parties PRIOR to a shoot, all photo and video shoots undertaken through TFP Australia are conducted according to the following base understanding:

  • The photographer retains all copyright in all images (still or moving) taken.
  • The photographer grants all other participants in the arrangement the right to use the images for self-promotion.
  • No one who is not the copyright owner is allowed to profit from the images beyond self-promotion. Only the photographer may offer licenses over the images. Ideally, they should first receive agreement from other participants before they do so, though this is not compulsory.
  • If the photographer profits from the images (such as by licensing the images) they are obliged to share these profits amongst other participants.