Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

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I have run an "on the side" mail-order high-end photo printing business for a couple of years now, and have printed all sorts. I have considered this before and have drawn up my own conclusions, and I have never had any real issues (Other than rejecting the odd job)

So my question is - who's responsibility is it to check copyright?

The "customer" commissions the "work" (the print) , I simply supply the "service" of putting the work onto paper. The "Work" then (once paid) becomes the property of the "artist" and they do whatever they want with it.

Am I Legally obliged to ask for copyright ownership or royalty agreement proof, or is this purely on the artist's shoulders?

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Put yourself through a hypothetical scenario:

Someone sues you for printing copywritten material. As you stand in court do you want to explain that it's not your responsibility to check or that you checked and were provided with some kind of documentation that said you were permitted to do it (I would argue that I can't be expected to validate the legitimacy of every document that is shown to me, provided it looks legitimate on its face)? It's a CYA thing so even if technically you don't have to, you probably should.

Also, this is a great question for a lawyer. If someone says that it's not your responsibility and you end up in court anyway you want to be able to tell the judge "your lawyer said you didn't have to" and not "some internet community poster with no credentials to speak of told me I didn't have to."

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Its a complex one isn't it... another example is I often create brochures for clients, in which I use stock photography, which would come under the exact same copyright ownership / reproduction rights. I have never once been asked to provide proof that I have paid for the stock imagery (I always do), or have rights to the images within the brochure. – Digital Lightcraft Aug 23 '12 at 12:41
+1 for the second paragraph (would upvote more if that were possible!) this sort of thing could have huge implications for your business - I would recommend professional legal advice, tailored to your local/national laws. – Matt Grum Aug 23 '12 at 13:13
Indeed, its unlikely to happen, but the $h1t always hits the fan when you least expect it to! - I was going to wave the "I cant afford to ask a lawyer" card, but then remembered that im a member of the FSB (Federation of small businesses) - who supply free legal advice to their members :-) - ETA: I intentionally didnt publish my actual policy in the original question just to see what the general feeling was- My actual terms state that I have the right to ask for proof of right to reproduce, which I rarely need to, but if someone orders 10 copies of the Mona Lisa then alarm bells would kick in! – Digital Lightcraft Aug 23 '12 at 14:28
Have a +1 anyway :-) - however its not an answer, so cant mark as such. – Digital Lightcraft Aug 23 '12 at 16:14

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