Editing of pics by others

Written by Manuel Faessler
Hi folks!

Besides all the blog-posts about making-ofs, set-ups, travel-reports,etc. I want to write some critical and/or provocative texts in between them. I just have to write about „serious" topics as well from time to time if they are important to me, interesting for me, or touching me at that moment.

This topic is one which is discussed on many platforms right now and matters to me as well as it happend with my pics as well. I want to write about the „illegal" variant here, not the cases where the photographer wants somebody to edit his pics or even hires someone to do so. I want to write about the case when a pic is edited by someone without the knowledge and/or consent of the photographer.

As I ususally do with „serious" blog-posts, I want to outline the facts first, and write my opinions afterwards. I'd be very happy if you would let me know what you think about it and give me your point of view about this topic.

The legal side

To anticipate it, the „illegal" above was exactly meant that way. The photographer is the owner of the copyrights and so any unauthorised editing (and publishing of the edited pic) is automatically a violation of the copright. If the editing is done by any person who has mady a contract with the photographer (tfp-contract, pay-contract, an order, etc.) it additionally is a violation of the contract as well (at least if I'm the photographer as I have a clause in all my contracts and my GTC that prohibits the editing of my pics). It even could be a „injury to reputation" in case it is not clear enough that the photographer is not responsible for the editing.

To make it short: those things can be taken to court and would be very easy to proof.

What is Editing?

Well for me that is very clear: everything that changes the picture. It starts with enlarging or downsizing it, continues on to croping to „real" editing like changing colors, removing or adding elements from or to the picture, adding texts, use the pic in collages, etc. ... and the worst case of all: apply crappy instagram-filters (or similar stuff) on my pics.

What do I think about it?

As you may have guessed from the text above, I'm not really happy if somebody messes with my pictures. For me it shows disrespect of my work, as I spend much time on those pics and on getting them to look just as they are and thats exactly the way I publish them. Imagine the situation if you paint a nice picture for somebody and you see it sometime after that and it is cropped on one side, some elements were added, others removed, another layer of colors have been added, etc. ... I think you wouldn't be very happy with that, right?

The „how do I react" is maybe the more difficult question ... If the person or the (business-) relationship means relatively little to me (sounds weird, but I think you can call it that way), the one responsible for the editing gets a polite e-mail from me with the request to remove the pic from all the platforms on which it was posted and I ask him/her to not edit my pics in the future.

If the person (or relationship) means more to me I try to be even more diplomatic ... e.g. if it is a customer who has „bought" the pic (in reality he hasn't bought the pic itself ... only the rights to use/publish it) he gets a polite e-mail or a call from me and I ask how the customer wants the pic to be and make the offer to do the editing for him. Or if its lets say the model who is on the pic. Then I'll make an offer to edit the pic in a couple of different looks and let her decide which one she wants to use.

Most times I find myself a little bit between the devil and the deep blue sea because I know that almost every time the motivation to edit the pics is not to disrespect my work or to deliberatly steal it ... it is mostly the fact that the people don't know better or don't think that I as a photographer could have a problem with their editing. Sometimes I even think they don't want to bother me with it or are just too shy to ask me for an additional look or some adjustments.

In many cases I've said nothing at all ... just because the pic wasn't worth it (for me) to cause any kind of disagreement.

I think there is only one case in which I react a little bit more „aggressive": If I don't know the person at all. In this case I treat it like any other thievery of my pics, write a short and official-looking e-mail with the demand to remove the pic from all the platforms on which it was posted and to avoid thievery of my pics in the future along with the thread to hire a lawyer in case he doesn't act accordingly.

What is important for me and is part of the motivation to write this blogpost is, that I want to sensitize people to the topic and to let them know what it means for a photographer ... especially as digital pics are relatively easy to get and even easier to edit these days.

I would really appreciate it if you let me know what you think about the topic, about the things I've written, etc. just let me know your point of view ... as comment here, on my facebook-page, via e-mail (adress below), ...

If you have some additional questions for my, feel free to ask me. You can just comment here, write me an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or send me a message on facebook. I'll do my best to answer all your questions.

If you want me to write about a specific topic in the future please let me know. I'll be happy to write a little post about it.

And as allways: if you like this post (or not), please let me know ... spread the word, press „like", etc. I really appreciate your feedback!!!


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