May 17th, 2016
Randall poses the following question:
I just received an email from a new client I did a shoot for. They asked me to sign a release that would release my copyright to them. My terms of service on my invoice says the Realtor is granted a usage license to use the images in any manner they choose as long as the house is for sale or until it is removed from the market. I keep reading here on the PFRE blog, not to release your copyrights. Would I be foolish to sign this agreement?
Randall, to answer your question much depends on how likely it is that you can or will ever relicense this client’s images. Even though most of the discussion here on PFRE recommends that you retain your rights so that you can relicense images a poll back in March showed that a majority (90%) of PFRE readers never or rarely ever relicense their real estate work. I’m not sure why this is.
So in getting to an answer you have to determine:
- Are you likely to relicense these images? Do you regularly relicense your images?
- If you refuse to sign the clients release are you likely to lose this client? Is this a good client that you don’t want to loose?
- It may make sense for you to charge a higher fee for photos when you when you release your rights to the client?
If you never relicense images or never put any energy into relicensing images like 52% of the PFRE readers on the poll it doesn’t make much difference if you sign the release or not. On the other hand, if you are likely to lose money by signing the release you should either charge more for signing it or don’t sign it. The answer is going to be different for different real estate photographers.