I would like to sell my pictures as cards. Do I have to get my photos licensed, or is it better to copyright everything to the fullest extent? I don't want to give up any of my rights to the photos.

  • 4
    Welcome to photo stack exchange! What location are you in? As this will weigh heavily on the answers! Also, are you planning on selling the cards directly or do you want to sell your photos to card companies?
    – dpollitt
    Oct 31 '11 at 15:20

(In the US) Any image you take is copyrighted without any additional action on your part, you fully own this copyright and should NEVER part with the copyright. I would suggest you register the copyright, visit http://www.copyright.gov/ for more info on that. You can file a lawsuit against anyone who violates your copyright regardless of if you register, but registering allows additional (punitive) damages to be collected up to $150,000 per image.

Licensing is something you give others, to reprint, sale on your behalf, display publicly, etc. You should never give up your copyright to an image, read any contract carefully to ensure you don't. If you are going to be printing and selling the cards yourself (even if selling them wholesale, you don't need to license anything. If however you decided to sell them image itself to a card company, you would 'license' it to them, giving them permission to reprint and sell the image. There are lots of example licenses floating around the internet, and if you have any questions on a contract, find a good contract lawyer who has experience in the photo industry. (any pro photog in your area should be able to refer you to someone)

good luck.

  • that said, registering your copyright can make winning any lawsuits/claims against violators easier as it creates a definite timeline for the creation of the original.
    – jwenting
    Nov 2 '11 at 7:17
  • Indeed, it'll be much easier.
    – Zeb
    Nov 2 '11 at 14:08

If you are in the US, (and some other countries), copyright to a photo is granted the photographer as soon as the shutter button is released. You do not need to register with the US Copyright Office, unless you wish to collect punitive damages in your lawsuit over the violator.

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