Photo Attorney

Sep 30, 2006

What Not To Do - Holding Clients' Photos Hostage

Setting a price for your photography services is more than finding a happy medium between one that's too high that you lose customers or too low that you're giving away the farm. You must add some legal factors to the equation. For example, you can make your prices "subject to change," but you can't use them to bring a customer in and then charge a different fee.

Mark Roob, a Wisconsin wedding photographer, must have missed class when this important lesson was presented. Once his clients signed a contract for his package of 80 photos, he prevented others from shooting at the wedding. After the wedding, he insisted that the couple purchase additional photos at a higher price or pay more for the original 80 photos.

His clients complained to the authorities. A jury found him guilty of felony for fraudulent representations and writings. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison, was given 5 years of probation, and was fined $400. As a condition of probation, he was ordered to refund the client's money and to give them all proofs, photographs, and negatives (but he retained the copyrights since Section 201(e) of the Copyright Act prevents an involuntary transfer of copyrights).

You can read the court's order here.

Keeping your clients satisfied involves more than just taking good photos. Know your legal obligations to them, as well.

Take my advice; get professional help.
PhotoAttorney®

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