I missed this story earlier this week, but apparently Walmart has enacted a policy of only printing your crappy digital photos. Well, they don’t put it quite that way, but it looks like the only result they’ll be satisfied with:
Photofinishing labs increasingly are refusing to print professional-looking photographs taken by amateurs.
The reason: Photofinishers are afraid of infringing on professional photographers’ copyrights.
Spokeswoman Jackie Young said Wal-Mart is "a littler tougher than the copyright law dictates."
"We want to protect professional photographers’
rights," Young said. "We will not copy a photograph if it appears to be
taken by a professional photographer or studio."
She related the case of a bride whose wedding
photos were rejected by Wal-Mart because they "looked like
"It caused a little bit of a stink," Young said.
As it should. Obviously I won’t be taking my photos to Walmart. Not that I was planning to anyway.
This is what happens when copyright laws are enforced beyond the limits of common sense. I’ve taken pictures for money, so I suppose that makes me a "professional". But I accept as reality that my clients are perfectly able to make copies of my photos whenever they want. And that’s fine. They paid me to take photos, not make printouts. The photos are theirs now, though not exclusively so.
It would really be hypocritical for me to think otherwise. I must admit that I have no qualms whatsoever about scanning and printing copies of prints that I’ve paid for. I have a portrait studio print of my late father from twenty years ago. Why in heaven’s name should I have to return to that studio for another copy? That’s just silly.
It’s vaguely possible that I’d feel otherwise if I really made a living taking pictures, but I don’t think so. The days when expert printing, and even retouching, required a professional are long past. Yes, a pro might be able to do better under some circumstances, but most people don’t care. And if they do, they’ll devise a work-for-hire arrangement to get the job done, as they’d do with any other professional service. If professional photographers intend to thrive in the world of digital photography then they’ll need to do it by serving their customers, not trying to make them lawbreakers.