Print Profits and Rights to print and sell for Cosplayers and Photographers.


Time for another touchy subject. Photo print profits – who gets the profit for a sale? Why can photographers sell without giving a single dime to a cosplayer?

Lately, there has been an explosion on the internet by “super hot and popular” cosplayers claiming they are being used and abused in the community and never being paid for their time. Claims of “we should be getting paid if the photographer is selling a picture of us” and even as far as “I will sue you because I am a joint owner of my photographs”.


Legal Terms – Who owns it and why?

If any of you are familiar with my blog here, I have numerous posts on legal rights for both cosplayers and photographers. I have went over many, many times that it is KEY to open communication with who you are shooting or who you are being shot by. You can find those posts here: Cosplayer and Photographer Copyrights and The Heroes of Copyright Infringement Ordeal I’ll do a quick sum up here.

You as a model and cosplayer do not legally own a photograph in any way – Even if your pretty face is in it.

“That is fucked up, Darrell – why is it like that?” – This all boils down to writing an image to a medium. A painter looks at your pretty face and decides to record it on a canvas. There is not much difference as a photographer who formed a picture (even digitally) and by a lot of you who like to say “oh he clicked a button.. that doesn’t count!”

There are an incredible amount of settings in a camera that take place in creating that image. Just because the “film sensor” is digital, doesn’t make it much different from recording it on film. Exposures, shutter speeds, compensation, depth of field, lens distortion, abrasions, color ranges, color fields, color palettes, white balance, light falloff, highlight-to-white, shadow-to-black, light shaping, hard light, soft light, mixed balance, skin tones and even catch-lights in your pretty eyes. I could go on for pages of different settings required to take a picture.

Go shoot with a guy who has their camera on “AUTO” which is what you are all talking about with “oh it took no effort to take a picture of  me” I promise you that you will not put that picture on your print store.

These reasons are why, in court and legal legislation, a photographer is the artist of all photographs – regardless of the subject.


Print sales legal summed up

 Q: As a photographer, do I need permission from the model/cosplayer to print and sell images of them?

A: No, you do not. As a “copy” right owner, you have rights to “copy” the image to sell. Copy meaning to reproduce in print form.

Q: As a cosplayer, Do I need permission from the photographer to sell prints of myself?

A: yes, you do. You need an agreement from the copy right owner. remember, you as a model/cosplayer do not own “copy” rights. Again, copy means to reproduce to print.


Where is all this ruckus happening?

Let’s take a look at what exactly is being said to cause quite a few of my REALLY good friends to be flat out worried about taking pictures of cosplayers anymore.

Cosplay photography rights 1


Let me make this even more clear.

Fashion = Cosplay — Cosplay = Fashion.

I have shot for DOZENS of magazines and fashion artists from AROUND THE WORLD. Guess what those fashion artists do? They make amazing clothing – amazing art worn by people to showcase their style and art drive from a clothing sense. This ranges from fabrics, furs, leathers and even metal plates. That sounds really familiar doesn’t it?

So that means a few things: First - As a cosplayer, you have EVERY RIGHT to charge photographers to take pictures of you. You can deny photographers pictures all day unless they pay. If you are specific about your image and want your time paid for then write up a contract and get that money in hand.


Second: “Cosplayers spend hundreds of dollars and hours labouring to create their costumes” – Here is my response to that in one simple picture. 

That is my Camera. Any questions?


Third: Who are you to say what people purchase a print for? From an art perspective, prints and art pieces are sold around the world because of the art work. If your pretty face is part of the art work, feel proud – not neglected. Photography is a medium of art. Sure, favorite characters and your boobs and ass on the picture sell it nicely to the horntoads of the internet. But that does not change the medium – at all.

Fourth:(final one for this bit, promise) – Cosplayers are paid for their time A LOT in this community. Amazing business women/cosplayers from around the world are sent to OTHER COUNTRIES to represent conventions and are paid for it. Their image for getting those jobs are indeed made part by photographers – are we scowling them for money? Think about that for a moment…….


Profits from prints of a  photograph are 100% the photographers from the start.

This ignorant comment made me infuriated. Hey Mick, scroll up just a few inches and rethink what you said.

A lot of people base off of this. They believe being a subject in a picture is everything and should be paid almost every dime. Some actually want to sue over it – like this lovely person from Heroes of Cosplay:

*As a sign of good faith, I have removed the name of the cosplayer from this email.*

But generally, a lot of respectable cosplayers understand it completely. Some of them even contact the photographer to then pay the photographer for print sale rights/sign off. That is totally okay too. I salute you guys who do that and applaud you greatly – you know who you are. That is REALLY awesome of you guys to even offer money to sell your photos. As I say below, I don;t really need or want that, but a lot of photographers actually run a business and live off of it -This is a great step represented by some big players in the community.


Putting things into real life perspective

Photographer takes pictures of a wedding. The mom of the bride buys a print from the batch of photos – Does the Bride get a cut of the profits?


Photographer takes pictures at the Olympics which are then sold to Getty Images/etc – do the subjects get any money?



The sum up and how to prevent disputes

I will boil this down to one simple term, once again.

Please talk to your photographers and cosplayers.

How BGZ Does it: I am friends with a lot of cosplayers. Sometimes they are very close friends. I don’t try and make money in this community very much. I have done art shows to showcase my stuff, donations and even sold some big pieces. When a cosplayer comes up to me and asks me about selling a print of mine, I am honored and so happy to say yes to you. I don’t want a dime. I am not here to capitalize on it at all. That is just not my way of business.

That being said, a cosplayer should never attack a photographer and ask for profits from prints HE IS SELLING. You have no right.

Photographers don’t make NEARLY as much as you cosplayers with prints.

Do this: Put them up in your store, photographer puts it up in his- – Take some selfies of your boobs hanging out and say your store is open – bing-bang-boom-done. I don’t see why that is so hard to do. Me and my friends/photographers are not after you cosplayers for money. You should not be after us.

I am not going to advise anyone to whip out contracts to get rights to a photograph. How about you all just being fucking friendly to each other? Cool people and cool friends make cool things happen. Get over yourselves and stop being so damn pretentious about you and your image and have fun.

In the end, for what amounts to pennies usually, it’s not worth hurting and bashing each other.  We can work together just as easily.  Like a lot of my friends have said “We dress up as cartoon characters for god’s sake.  It’s not big business”

Darrell/BGZ out.


Disclosure: I am not a lawyer – Please seek real legal advice if you have further questions or concerns on your specific matter.