A creative's guide to copyright

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The Association of Photographers (AOP) fought tirelessly for the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act that thankfully came into force in 1988. But what does copyright actually mean for a commercial creative today? 

Copyright underpins the nature of how nearly all photographers make a living (the words ‘copyright’ and ‘licensing’ are equally applicable to all forms of creative output, not just photography). As a form of intellectual property and enshrined in legislation, it is a property right and gives creators the ability to generate income by licensing the use of their endeavours, as opposed to selling ‘units’ of work. 

This notion of selling use not unit is vital to making our businesses sustainable, as well as maintaining and safeguarding the creative industries. If you want to have a successful commercial career, you can't just rely on your photography skills, you need to have the business knowledge to back it up – and understanding copyright is a major part of this.

It's no different to if you were to buy a music track: you do not own the content, but have purchased the right to use a copy for yourself

Copyright – or, the right to prevent and control copying – gives us flexibility and gives our

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