The Federal Copyright Act of 1976 made it clear that photographers, as authors, are the copyright owners of their photographic images, except when those images were made as an employee, or when the photographer has conveyed the copyright to another party in a written and signed agreement. Copyright is a legal right to control the copying, reproduction, distribution, derivative use and public display of photographs, and to sue for unauthorized use (infringement). These rights are protected by laws which provide for damages and criminal penalties for companies, processing photo labs, copier companies and the publishers of publications. Copyright in a work is separate from the tangible form of the work-when a photographer sells a copy of a photographic image, he/she retains all rights to the use of that image, and the purchaser owns only the limited rights to display it publicity to family and friends. When a copying or publishing company that you are dealing with tells you they cannot reprint or publish the photograph you own without the photographer’s permission, they really cannot. They are obligated to protect the photographer’s copyright because willful infringement for profit is a criminal offense, and avoiding infringement protects both of you from incurring liability.