What's the Difference Between a Copyright Release and Printing Release

Copyright vs. Personal Printing Release

Omaha Wedding Photographers


Today we’re answering the most often asked question in our wedding consultations:

“Do I “get the files”?

The short answer?

Can your print them on your own?

Do you own the copyright?

Do you receive a personal printing release?


To us, giving a "copyright release" is a buzz-phrase and misinterpreted. Because you DO hear that a lot in this industry, we wanted to clarify the difference between giving a copyright release and a personal printing release.

With all of our wedding packages, and most of our family photo packages, you receive the digital files with a personal printing release.

What does this mean?

Once we snap an image on our camera, legally, we have made a copyrighted image. And actually, any time YOU snap an image on your camera, you have made a copyrighted image!

We take the images we’ve made for you, color correct and tone them to our branded aestheitc, export them into a file version that you and your computer can handle*, send them to you accompanied by a personal printing release, and give you relatively free reign** to print them as you wish!

You want a T-shirt with your photo on it? Great! So do we! Coffee mug for Fathers Day? Perfect. Prints for Grandma’s already full wall? You bet!

Why don’t we give you the copyright?

Because you don’t need it.

Why do WE, JM Studios, need it?

Because we (Janine and McKenzie) legally “authored” the image and need full capabilities to edit and distribute them as we see fit as a business. How we edit and market our work is part of our brand and part why you hired us. If we were to sell the copyright, we would lose the ability to do that.

So what exactly is a personal printing release?

A personal printing release informs the printer of products that the files you have are approved for printing by someone other than us, JM Studios.

A personal printing release allows you to make prints, calendars, glassware, canvases, wallpaper, T-shirt’s...whatever you want for your own personal use.

What you can’t do is sell your images, manipulate them (we’re talkin’ to you Instagram filter), or use/sell them for commercial use.

With that, it’s the best of both worlds! By you receiving a personal printing release, you can do all the things you need to do with your images.

By us remaining the sole owner of the copyright, we’re protecting ourselves and business, and are able to show off your amazing photos to develop more amazing clients relationships, just like we have with you!

In closing:

What can you do with a personal printing release?

  • Share on social media
  • Print them as many times as you want in any way for personal use
  • Share them with your family and friends

What can’t you do with a personal printing release?

  • Sell them
  • Use them for commercial use
  • Edit or manipulate them in any way (eh hem, Instagram)

Disclaimer, we're not lawyers. Not even close. Any questions you might have should be directed towards a lawyer...like this guy! 

* We give you high resolution files for extra large printing (as in, you could print wallpaper if you wanted to...). However, we use a special compression tool to make the file size small enough that your computer can handle them without catching fire. Also note, many online product providers require image sizes less than 10MB. You never want to assume you can do that, so we do that for you as much as we can!

** Free reign = Un-manipulated images given to you, by us.

Have questions? Let's chat!

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