What is a copyright? The term copyright is defined as "the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work)" (Merriam-Webster).
This means your professional family photos are protected by a photography copyright law. Most people know very little about copyright laws and what is legal and/or illegal. Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976, photographs are protected by copyright from the moment of creation and cannot be reproduced by anyone other than the photographer.
It is important to remember that when you buy a print from a photographer, that doesn't mean you have purchased the copyright. This means that you are not able to copy the image using scanners, photo-quality printers, and copy stations. This act to reproduce the photographs is only the right of the photographer.
The only time in which you can copy, distribute, publicly display, or create derivative works from a professional photographers original work is with the permission of the photographer. Any use of the photograph without permission directly affects the photographer personally.
When you infringe upon the copyright laws that have been put in place, you directly affect the income and livelihood of the photographer, so please keep in mind that copyright infringements are illegal and reproducing photos without permission can result in civil and criminal penalties.
Thanks for taking a minute to read and understand what a photography copyright law is, Sunny Valley Creations appreciates your business and understanding in these serious matters.
"Copyright." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.
"Copyright | PPA." Copyright | PPA. Professional Photographers of America. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.