As I mention before photography evolved dramatically in last twenty years. We went from film to mobile devices with cameras on it. How cool is that! We became connected through internet and flow of information became instant.
As much all those things made our life easier there are things which are not so fun. I am talking copyrights in photography. I am sure all of us at some point right click on image and saved it directly to your device. Do you know that if that image is not yours (you did not created or both rights to it) and you will use it for personal gains you are breaking a law? Its so easy to just do it, and there is very small chance of any repercussions. As I said we are coming into new era and photography industry is still not federally regulated. So yes....you can get away with it, BUT just remember would you like someone stealing from you? Of course not! When we work, we ALL want to get paid.
The best solution for this is stock photography ( iStock , ShutterStock, BigStockPhoto ) or hiring photographer to create image library for you. Yes it will cost you from $20 to thousands (depends what you need), but it will be right thing to do.
When I consult my clients before session I go paragraph by paragraph of my contract. Most of folks do not read them and I want to make sure they are aware of what they are signing. I have different contracts one for personal and one for commercial use. They are very very different because of the copyrights and commission. Commercial contracts are based on amount and range of image usage.
Think about buying book. Yes you paid for it, you can read it and enjoy it BUT you cannot scan it or copy it in any way and proceed selling it or giving it away for personal gain (folks liking you more because you gave them a free book). So if you ever were photographed and signed contract for personal use you CANNOT use those images for example to run for public office, thats commercial use.
Unfortunately I had quite few occurrences where folks either did not listen or worse knew about limitation and still broke the law. Sometimes simple "may I use it" and credit your work is enough. When you dont- first of all you may be caught and sued, if not...well I believe in Karma. The way you treat other people you will be treated. Majority of photographers do not proceed legal actions but for sure they will not recommend you in any way. And as much as internet with social media allows us to spread our own word, word of mouth is still most powerful aspect of growing your business.
So if any of you have any question about copyrights you can reach out to me or Professional Photographer of America.