As a photo booth business owner or operator, you have just returned from a very successful event, plugged your PC into your network and started to upload the photos of the event, either to an online album or directly to your Facebook page.
But have you just breached your customers’ copyright on the pictures taken in the booth? Who owns the copyright of your photobooth hire photos and what should you do to protect yourself?
Let’s start with the copyright owner. As from 1989 the law states that the copyright belongs to the person who has taken the photograph. A simple to understand concept when someone is standing in front of you with a camera, but what about a photo taken in a photo booth? Most photo booths require some form of action to “take” the photo either by pressing of a physical or “on screen” button in the booth. The copyright of the photo therefore then belongs to the person or persons who pressed the “button” and not as you might think, the photo booth owner.
Photo Booth Business – Are you Exposed?
Unfortunately, many of the photo booth business operators across the UK leave themselves exposed in this respect and fail to appreciate the issues surrounding the ownership and publication of the photos taken in the booth. Many proceeding to publish a full album of all the photos taken to their Facebook page for all to see and share, without first obtaining any form of consent for those photos to be used in this way.
Unfortunately, many of the photo booth business software packages available do not have the protective steps in place to prevent this from happening without gaining the prior consent of those in the booth.
We currently achieve this through our bespoke photo booth business software that will give the option of “Print Your Photo” or “Print & Post to Facebook”. If selecting this second option the screen will then show a second screen requesting confirmation that the subject(s) are happy for the photo to be both printed and a copy sent to Facebook.
Another issue to be wary of is the accessibility of the full album from your website. We have seen many occasions where a photo has been shared on the internet and the original url of the album included with the photo, together with a reference number contained in the url that unlocks access to the rest of the album.
In some cases there are even examples where the whole album of customers’ photos are available for all to access without any security whatsoever to access them. A simple click on the Gallery link on the photo booth business owners’ website opens up the complete album for all to see.
This is certainly not good practice and although many booth operators will claim they have the right under their hire terms and conditions it is doubtful these would stand up if one of their customers guests challenged these terms with regard to their personal copyright on a photo they have taken by the action of pressing the “button” in the booth.
If you are looking to start a photo booth business or seeking to update/upgrade your existing system these are just a couple of potential issues you should be discussing with your photo booth software provider to ensure you are adequately protected.
- Do not post photos or albums directly to social media platforms without explicit consent. Instead, send the file of photos to the person or organisation that booked you for the event
- If in doubt or you are contacted by a customer with a potential copyright (or image privacy) issue contact an image rights legal specialist as soon as possinle