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Are Photographs Copyright Protected?

Adnan Sarajlić, Edna Basara • mar 6, 2024

Are Photographs Copyright Protected?

The use of works produced by others for creative purposes is nothing new. It has been around for as long as creativity itself has existed but has received fresh impetus from the widespread use of digital technology.

From the invention of the printing press to today’s wired world, copyright has been an essential aspect of intellectual property protection.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, copyright and related rights are governed by the Law on Copyright and Related Rights (‘the Law’).

This piece of legislation defines a copyright work as an original literary, scientific, or artistic work, irrespective of the type, means, or form it is expressed in, except where otherwise provided for by the Law.

In particular, photographs and works produced by means of processes similar to photography are deemed to be copyright works.

By creating the photograph, the photographer, as its author, acquires copyright which comprises publication right, the right to be identified as the author, and the right to object to derogatory treatment of the photograph (moral rights); the right to make reproductions of the photograph, distribute it to the public, etc. (economic rights); and other rights.

A person who is not the author may use a photograph only with the consent of the photographer, who is then entitled to remuneration unless the Law provides otherwise.

Notably, the photographer may deny consent for the use of their photographs (or copies of those photographs).

Copyright subsists for as long as the photographer is alive and for a period of 70 years after their death.

A photographer may enforce their copyright either personally or through a representative who may be a natural or a legal person.

Anyone whose copyright as regulated by the Law has been infringed, as well as anyone facing a tangible threat of copyright infringement, may seek copyright protection and claim damages from the infringer pursuant to general indemnification rules.

Although the Law provides clear protections for copyright and related rights (in particular through its misdemeanour provisions), these rights are commonly violated online.

Daily copyright infringements faced by photographers include the uncredited use of their images and misappropriation of their photos.

As a photographer, you are free to decide whether to use it for your own purposes or make it available online on social media.

However, does posting a photograph online waive your copyright?