Copyright 101 for Clients of our studio

Copyright law is a complex and confusing topic – most people don’t know much about it except perhaps that it is scary. If you’ve ever seen the FBI notice on copyright when playing a DVD or BluRay movie, you will know what we mean.


Yet, modern technology makes it easier and easier to infringe on someone’s copyright – it often doesn’t take more than 2-3 clicks or swipes to break the law. Clients of our studio are not immune to that, and while one may think: “what difference does that make – one image more or less?” – for us it makes a lot of difference. It’s because we’re a small business – not a big, ruthless corporation with a cohort of fierce lawyers ready to go after you. Even more importantly, for us the end product is not just a picture – it is the experience. If you infringe on our copyright and we send you a notice – the most important outcome of our business is ruined.

Unfortunately, this has happened in our studio too many times. We realize it is never intentional, however it still carries a full range of consequences. Therefore we feel necessary to educate our clients about Copyright before anything bad happens. So, here we go.

Copyright – the basics

U.S. Copyright Law states that the initial copyright in a work belongs to the author – in this instance, the photographer (see This copyright automatically comes into being the moment the work is created – no other document, contract or other formality is required. As the sole copyright owner of the work, the photographer has the exclusive right to reproduce the work, prepare derivative works from the original, to display the work publicly and to distribute copies of the work by sale or other transfer.

Be advised, Congress has been clear that copyright infringement is very serious business. For detailed information see – check especially paragraphs 504 and 505. In short, copyright owner is able to recover not only the payment for infringed images, but also court and attorney fees plus damages of up to $30,000 per image (up to $150,000 for willful infringement). Yes, you read that correctly: up to $30,000 for non-intentional infringement – per image.

After copyright infringement letter draft.


What you can do with your purchased portraits

If you have purchased portraits from Patricia, you have got digital file for every portrait. In order to dispel any doubts about what is OK and not OK to do with them – see the info boxes below.

Please do:

  • Display your portraits at home – in any way you wish.
  • Take your printed images with you when you visit people and show them off.
  • Share your portraits on-line privately – on facebook, google+, instagram, via email, or just show them on your phone or computer screen. No need to ever mention our name, unless you want to.

Please review your license if it allows you to:

  • Make copies or prints of your portraits (verify maximum size) – printing license is required.
  • Use the images for any business purpose (e.g. on a business card or company website) – business license is required.

Please DON’T:

  • Make any changes to your images – adjust brightness, color balance, add text or graphics or otherwise edit them.
  • Use the images in any printed materials (brochures, books, etc) or for editorial purposes.
  • Enter these images in contest or competitions – please ask for permission first.


What you can do with portraits that you didn’t buy

Patricia will occasionally post other images from your session – on her blog or elsewhere on her website, or on social media.

Please do:

  • Share the entire blog posts with images, or share the links to posts.
  • Share the link to our website.
  • Tag yourself or pin to images posted on social media.

Please DON’T:

  • Share individual images from blog posts.
  • Remove our logo, watermarks or other protective elements.
  • Make screenshots or copies of these photographs.
  • Save or store them on your computer / device.

Any use of the photographs not expressly allowed in your license will be a violation of Patricia’s copyright. However, if you contact us in advance with your request, Patricia may grant you a separate license for a reasonable fee, or sometimes even free of charge. If you have any questions – call or email us.


What will happen if I infringe on Patricia’s copyright?

  1. First of all, you will deeply hurt Patricia. There is nothing more disheartening and hurtful if you see your work stolen or used without payment – when you have invested your entire heart, energy and lots of time into it. That’s right – Patricia’s images are so great for a reason, and this is not only her talent, but also A LOT of work of her and the entire studio staff. Even up to 60 minutes of our time goes into every image presented to you – the time we didn’t spend relaxing or with our children.
  2. You will get a bill – perhaps a surprisingly large one, because the standard rate for copyright infringement is 3x the regular rate. You may also be billed for additional licenses, depending on the circumstances. However – this bill is the least of your worries, because…
  3. Most importantly – you will irreversibly ruin your memories of the great experience you had with Patricia. You were so happy after your session, and even if quite some time has passed – you still remember it fondly and it lifts you up. Now you receive a notice of copyright infringement together with an unexpected bill… This is rather shocking for almost everyone, and it’s not a pleasant shock. Even if you clear things up quickly – looking at your portraits will now remind you of this shock instead of the wonderful experience you had. And that’s the worst consequence.