Copyright, Intellectual Property & Image Licensing

Images (especially in digital form) constitute a valuable, desirable and easily transferrable asset - which is why every image created by a photographer is automatically protected by both domestic and international copyright laws.


Like any professional working in a respective trade, photographers invest an enormous amount of time, energy and money into developing their skills - along with acquiring equipment demanded by the task of capturing quality images. Successful photographers take years to establish a workflow and style, involving their own unique perspective and techniques of processing raw photographs into valuable final images. Time, skills and equipment are only part of the equation when it comes to taking a photograph and developing it into an image. Costs of labour, insurance, digital storage archives, post processing software, and business related running costs all factor in behind the scenes. Considering all of the above, the impact of having images stolen, repurposed or illegally commercialised can be devastating for photographers - who have both a legal and moral claim towards both protecting their intellectual property and recovering damages resulting from copyright infringement.

Unless dictated to the contrary by an employment contract or signed agreement by the photographer, copyright ownership of images remains with the photographer. The photographer may then choose to sell a copy of an image to a third-party, granting them permission to display the image under the terms of a usage license.

This kind of transaction is not unique to photography. Most creative industries (music, books, film, TV, arts & entertainment) operate in the same way. For example, when you buy a book you are purchasing a licensed copy of a particular piece of literature. However, intellectual property rights do not transfer with the purchase. Copyright remains with the author, publisher and their associates.

So, when you purchase an image, you are purchasing a licensed copy of that image - which you can enjoy indefinitely under the terms of your licence. Photographers are also open to fair negotiations when it comes to assigning copyright terms of their work under commission or contract, but these terms must be mutually agreed upon before the photographer releases their work to the client.

I offer affordable licensing for personal, editorial, and limited commercial use (see ordering and pricing) as well as fair contract rates for all-inclusive image licenses and exclusive licenses. Please contact me if you would like to find out more.

Common Questions

Do I own the photos I've ordered from you?

Every order comes with a choice of conditional licensing terms. So, when you purchase an image you come to own a licensed copy of that image, optimised for either personal, editorial or commercial use.

Buying a licensed copy of an image does not represent a transfer of intellectual property or copyright ownership - which at all times are retained by the photographer. Think of it like buying a book, album or movie: while you now own your own licensed copy, this doesn't equal a transfer of copyright title (which will remain with the author, artist, filmmaker or studio).

If you're hiring me privately, your contract will set out all terms and conditions for use.

Can I give my photos to someone else to use?

If you're sharing your photos with family, friends and loved ones for private use that is absolutely fine. As is editorial use. However, if you wish to commercialise an image for use on a business' website, professional service, media publication, brand sponsorship endorsement, sale or promotion of any kind, a commercial license will need to be purchased.

Can I update my usage license?


If the license you've purchased doesn't cover the purposes for which you would like to use your images, please get in touch. You'll receive optimised renders of your images and a new usage license at a discounted price (i.e the amount of your new license less what you had previously paid).

Please note, this applies to digital files only and not physical products such as prints.

I'm sponsored by a brand or business - can I tag them if I post your photos on my socials?

Sure! They're also free to share your original post (images included) to their feed or embed it elsewhere.

BUT - if your sponsor or any other affiliated business wants to create their own promotion featuring, they will have to purchase a separate license to do so.

Am I allowed to retouch images myself?

No photographer in the world can stop you from altering a digital image, but there's no question that most of us prefer not to have our images augmented.

Every photographer has a unique shooting style and editing workflow. Any ordered proof image will always undergo a facelift before being sent to a client, because it's our aim to develop images to the very best of our ability.

If you're planning on making drastic changes to an image, you may end up misrepresenting the photographer's work and also degrading the quality of the image.

If you're not entirely satisfied with an image, all you need to do is contact your photographer for assistance.

You may also want a graphic designer or artist to render your images into an entirely different medium (such as a logo or painting).

It's always a good idea to check with your photographer first, just in case.

Do you mind If I screenshot your images?

Yes, I really do.

Proof images are security watermarked for this reason and all other images displayed on this website remain property of Simon Scully Photography.

Do you really follow up on stolen images / enforce copyright?

Yes, absolutely.

Two steps are taken towards resolving issues regarding copyright infringement:

i.) An invoice is issued to the party that has used an image (or images), allowing them 14 days to either pay for a license, or to remove the image(s). A recovery fee and damages may also be sought out, depending on the circumstances.

ii.) If payment is not received after 14 days and the image(s) remain on display, legal action will be taken.

It's best just to do the right thing: purchase an image license.