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Derivative Work-Retouching?

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  #1  
Old 09-20-2010, 05:54 PM
dazzlement dazzlement is offline
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Derivative Work-Retouching?

Does Retouching count as a derivative work? I worked with a photographer, we went into business together with her doing the photographing and me doing the retouching on top of everything else all under one name. I did extensive editing on the photos, made the models flawless, changed backgrounds, etc. Now we've dissolved the business and the clients (which were mostly her friends) all of a sudden say I'm not allowed to use the pictures for my portfolio. There were no contracts involved for any party, and I have an e-mail from the photographer stating I could use the pictures we did together as long as I credited her photography. I did that, and I also took the girls pictures down just out of consideration. But now the photographer is posting pictures we did together and calling them her own without any credit to my retouching. She never even touched the photos after she took them. They were immediately downloaded on my computer and she received the retouched photos. It was not until after we dissolved the business that she got all edited and unedited photos. Does she have a right to do that? I understand that she took the photos so she has copyrights to them, but do I not have any rights since we were working together? She is now my competition since I am now doing my own photography and offering retouching services and we live in the same area, I worked with her for about 9 months and feel like all I did was contribute to her portfolio and rarely even got paid for it. I barely have anything for my portfolio now since that's the first time I got to do work professionally. And it also looks like her work is really good when she barely even knows how to use photoshop. I tried to read copyright rules but I can't make much sense of it. I appreciate any input. Thanks!
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Old 09-20-2010, 08:10 PM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: Derivative Work-Retouching?

Dazzlement, welcome to RetouchPro. Sorry to hear about your unfortunate situation.
Regardless of who owns the copyright, if the models / subjects in the photographs do not provide you with a Model Release or other legal document that grants you the rights to use their likeness, then you don't have a leg to stand on.
As far as you receiving recognition as the retoucher on the final work / print / publiction, that is not normal. Of the zillions of photos you see in magazines, ads, newspapers, journals, etc, when was the last time you ever saw a retoucher credited? Only the photographer ever gets the mention.
As a retoucher, if you do not have a contractual agreement with the image copyright holder, granting you some rights, then you have no rights to use the original image or its derivatives that were retouched by you.
If your business was registered and had a legal name, and if that business had legal rights to the images, and if you were a true partner in that business, you might have some recourse in a court of law. However, I doubt that the effort would be worth the trouble and the cost.
You are probably going to have to consider this experience as one of life's teaching moments, and move on.
Best wishes, Murray
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Old 09-20-2010, 09:53 PM
dazzlement dazzlement is offline
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Re: Derivative Work-Retouching?

Thank you for the reply, I currently have contracts in place now that I am on my own and figured I would have to chalk this up to a learning experience as much as it hurts my feelings and hurts my business currently. But lesson learned and it won't happen again. Just going to build up my own portfolio and hope my own work stands for itself. :O) Thanks!
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Old 09-20-2010, 10:50 PM
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shift studio shift studio is offline
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Re: Derivative Work-Retouching?

I'm not an authority, but as I understand it, Mr. Monday is 100% correct. I just thought I'd reply that your story makes me really angry at this photographer. What an a$$!

--shift studio.
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Old 09-21-2010, 12:04 AM
dazzlement dazzlement is offline
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Re: Derivative Work-Retouching?

Thanks shift studio, I'm very frustrated by the whole thing but I've learned a lot and I'm hoping it will make my own business better in the end. Can't let it get me down. I've calmed down since the whole thing happened but I wanted to get some facts. Even though they are not in my favor I now know how to protect myself in the future. And I believe that I will get better work in the future anyway, her photos were horrible to work on! A challenge goes a long way in a learning situation lol. Thanks again!
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Old 10-02-2010, 12:06 AM
ftp-Jeff ftp-Jeff is offline
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Re: Derivative Work-Retouching?

I only insist on credits if they are cover shots, but to be honest, that has always been offered. When my work is in the big publications, they always drop a credit in for me.
The smaller publications are a different matter.
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:39 AM
creativeretouch creativeretouch is offline
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Re: Derivative Work-Retouching?

This is very interesting question. It depends in which country you work. Each country has different copyright law. I remember once I have read that if you will take a piece of work (photograph for example or Idea) and you will manipulate it - you will create a pretty new artwork and it is legal. There are also "collective copyrights" where you share the copyright with all creators. For example Make-up Artists never ask for copyrights but they bring a lot to a final picture. Also different situation is if you are employee of the company and you will create final work as a part of your job or you are independent, self-employed artist.
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Old 10-06-2010, 07:42 AM
dazzlement dazzlement is offline
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Re: Derivative Work-Retouching?

Thank you for your replies, I am in the United States, I don't know if that makes a difference. I have pretty much just chalked this up to a loss and am currently just trying to build up my own portfolio. She pretty much slandered my name to everyone she knows, I guess to make herself feel better, considering I did all of our advertising, website, business cards, print orders, etc, on top of the retouching. She had dropped the percentage I got per shoot down to only 20% from half because I decided not to go to the actual shoots since it took up even more of my time. I didn't think that was fair, so that's pretty much why we dissolved the business. She didn't understand how much work I was putting into it when all she did was press a button for a couple hours per shoot. I just hate that I did all of that work for practically nothing. But I did learn from it, I now have my own website, advertisements, contracts and experience from the whole deal. Thanks again!
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:44 PM
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Cathy Duncan Cathy Duncan is offline
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Re: Derivative Work-Retouching?

Dazzelment: hmm, it’s really sad to know your story dude! You must get yourself secured because the same thing has also happened to me in the past and I did learn loads of lessons out of it.
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  #10  
Old 10-28-2010, 12:58 PM
PhotoComix PhotoComix is offline
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Re: Derivative Work-Retouching?

well you may have some weapons to use to get a honest deal

First if you worked long for somebody (so not as occasional free lance) and you may proof (regular payments that left traces as example)..well or you had a contract or your ex "boss" is in a very bad position

This may change from country to country but usually give to someone a job without a regular contract at least means fiscal fraud (same offense that allowed FBI to finally jail Al Capone,) and tax office have excellent lawyers.

good motive to be more reasonable and find a "friendly" agreement..i don't know US law but here if you were a employer you was not a associate in the legal offence but a victim

then if the images were already online from long in your portfolio, you have ground to sustain that that was part of your accord.

And if she want that removed is not you but her that has to found a lawyer and go to court with all related cost

Again i don't know US laws..here where i live i would easily put a similar "boss" in a very bad positions...
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