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Who decides what is a professional photo?

Posted by: under Buyer beware Updated: January 18, 2010 - 4:09 PM

After getting married last year, the groom went to a photo lab at a large chain store to have his wedding photos printed. The employee asked to see the copyright to the photos, which he had purchased from the photographer. He was able to get his photos printed after he returned with the copyright, but the experience left him frustrated that stores can arbitrarily decide what is the work of a professional photographer. Here’s what he wrote to Whistleblower:

“I can appreciate (the store) protecting artists, photographers, etc., by asking me, but I’m irked considering … these photos were not watermarked, didn’t have a photographer’s logo on them and didn’t have any sign of being professionally done in any way. When I asked (the lab) what qualified my photos to require proof of copyright, I was told ‘we can tell by the lighting and quality of the photos’.”
The groom said he is “still troubled by the fact that their (employees) are qualifying photos as having copyright issues based simply that they are wedding photos, and that the quality is better than your average $150 digital camera.”
Has this ever happened to you? How far should stores go to protect photographers? Should customers expect that wedding photos will be questioned?
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