If you need to print some photos taken by someone else using print services at places like Walmart, be careful: if the photographs look “too professional” some places will require a written copyright release before allowing you to pick up the prints — even after you’ve paid for them. The Consumerist has a story of a woman named Jessica who ran into problems at Walmart after collecting photos from a couple pro photographer friends for a friend’s funeral:
See, Jessica’s friend was a professional photographer, as is her friend’s husband, who had e-mailed Jessica the photos to have printed. “So even their candid pictures appear professional,” she explains to Consumerist.
[…] In addition to those photos, Jessica says that Walmart wanted copyright info on a couple of shots that had been taken at a pro studio like Olan Mills back in the ’70s.
“There was no mark on them to indicate where they were taken, and my friend’s mom had sent me those,” writes Jessica. “She paid for them back in the day when they were taken, and she scanned them for me last week. How am I supposed to get written copyrights for every single picture?
Jessica had also checked a box affirming that she had permission to print the images while on Walmart’s website. Protecting copyright is a good thing, but having employees make decisions on whether photos are “too professional” after they’ve already been printed and paid for doesn’t seem like a very good system.