PHOTOGRAPHY : Copyright and photographers

The ultimate source for detailed information on this topic is the Australian Copyright Council.

Their factsheets are valuable tools. Below are some of the key points from INFORMATION SHEET G11 Photographers and copyright.

Key points

  • Generally, the copyright in photographs lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years.
  • Ownership of photographs varies depending on the circumstances under which they were taken.
  • You will not own copyright just because you own the camera.
  • Photographers also have moral rights in relation to their works.

What does copyright protect?
Copyright protects a range of materials, including photographs.
Copyright does not protect information, ideas, styles or techniques. For example briefing a photographer to take a particular shot with specific lighting techniques does not give you copyright over the image.

Protection is free and automatic
There is no system of registration for copyright protection in Australia. Copyright protection does not depend upon registration, publication, a copyright notice, or any other procedure—the protection is free and automatic.
A photograph is protected by copyright automatically from the moment it is taken.

The copyright notice
The copyright notice is not required for protection in Australia and in most other countries

Read more about who owns copyright


Briefing a photographer

Prepare a brief for the photographer as part of the initial design brief.

Download a guide for briefing a photographer.

Photographing people


The OH&S issues need to be very carefully considered for the workers and the photographer.
And you still need to capture the essence of the worker and their environment.