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Copyright in advertising photography - What to keep in mind

Copyright considerations in advertising photography primarily boil down to whether an advertising photograph can be identified as a work. Here, many doubts arise, such as whether a product photograph is creative or reproductive, whether it has artistic value or whether it is insufficiently noble from the point of view of aesthetic value.

Product photography and copyright

For an advertising photograph to be subject to copyright, it must meet the conditions set out in the relevant legislation. Article 1 of the Copyright Act reads as follows:

"The subject matter of copyright is any manifestation of creative activity of an individual character, established in any form, irrespective of value, purpose and manner of expression (work)."

A certain problem in interpreting this provision may be determining whether a photograph has an individual character. In assessing whether it does or does not, expert opinions may be helpful. In his book Photographer, Photography, Law, Wojciech Orżewski, a copyright specialist, points out that in order to give a photograph an individual character, it is necessary for the photographer to undertake actions aimed at giving creative features to the final result of his work. Such actions may include, among others, choosing the moment of shooting, setting various parameters of the photograph, such as depth, focus or perspective, as well as creating the composition of the photograph on one's own. Also such mundane activities as choosing a filter while taking a picture with the camera on the phone can be considered as performing a creative effort.

Do product images represent artistic value?

There is no clear answer to this question. After all, a product photo can be either a photo for Amazon or a photo of jewellery for an online shop, or a fashion photo taken by a well-known and respected photographer for an exclusive catalogue or a prestigious fashion magazine. In the latter case, we can certainly speak of an artistic character, as this type of photographic material must be characterised by very high aesthetic qualities. The composition, the positioning of props, the poses of the models, the colours, the special effects - this is more than enough to say that such photography has an individual character.

Fotografia amazon prawa autorskie snapshot studio Polska
In the case of the latter type of images, depicting products sold in online shops, it is difficult to speak of similar characteristics. After all, their task is somewhat different. They are supposed to reflect the appearance of the presented object as realistically as possible, and in their case, repetition and imitation of certain standards are most appropriate. It is not without reason that most product images in online shops or auction portals are presented in virtually the same way - against a white background and from different perspectives.  Thanks to this method of publication and exposure, online shoppers can make more informed decisions when shopping.
Współzałożyciel. Specjalista ds. Marketingu i Reklamy
Ekonomista ze specjalizacją marketingu w biznesie oraz w handlu międzynarodowym. Współzałożyciel spółki Snapshot Studio. Na co dzień odpowiada za promocję i budowanie wizerunku firmy. W biznesie i w życiu kieruje się filozofią Kaizen. 

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