I’ve been considering what to include in this post for a couple of days now.

I didn’t want to make it sound like a rant or just another whiny internet post, but I felt it was very important to help educate our friends and clients. It’s important to us and I hope it is to you as well.

There is a troubling trend in today’s connected society. It seems that the general feeling today is that “if it’s on the internet, it’s free.”

Meanwhile, creatives, as we are called, from musicians to graphic designers and even us photographers are seen as content creators and little more. And since the content is easily shared or reused – for the most part with complete impunity – there is little to no thought given to it.

You like a song? Download it from a torrent site. Like a picture, right click and save it or simply do a screen capture.


Except it’s not free.

While it may not cost anything for you to do this, it’s actually theft. It costs the creative people who produce it and it’s illegal.

In Canada, and in much of the industrialized world today, there is something called Copyright. By definition, copyright legally gives the copyright holder, or in many cases the creator of the creative work in question control over who is allowed to copy it. Copyright covers many types of creative work including writing, painting, music, art and, of course, photography.

As a photographer, under Canadian law, as soon as I click the shutter, I own the copyright to the images I create. It is possible for a photographer to assign the copyright to someone else, however, for the most part, photographers license the work they sell. Just like a CD or a piece of computer software. When you buy a CD or computer software, you own the medium it is printed or contained on, not the content itself.  Just like photography.

When you buy a print from McCarthy Photographic, we are incredibly proud to know you appreciate our work and are displaying it in your home, but at the same time, you are not legally allowed to scan it or make copies of it. When you buy a CD from us, you get a lot of images for a great price, you can print them and give the prints to family or friends, post them on social media, or even put them on coffee mugs as long as they are for gifts. This is what’s called personal use. There is a file on the CDs we supply that states this and every print we supply has a label on the back with contact information for reprints.

The images we share in our on-line galleries are also included in this personal use license. They clearly have our logo and copyright information on the bottom of each image and we absolutely love to see where these images get shared. I’ve seen them on countless social media pages and galleries and even once – or twice 😉 – on dating sites of all places.

Any other use is considered commercial and is not allowed under the personal use license. Commercial use requires a separate license based on where and how you want to use the image.

We love the racing community and are more than happy to work with you on any project you need images for. From hero cards to web sites to truck wraps, we can help.  Our pricing is reasonable and your support helps us put food on the table and make our mortgage and car payments.

In the last few months, we’ve noticed a trend. We’ve seen our images in a number of places where they shouldn’t be used and quite honestly, without sugar coating things, it comes down to stealing and it hurts all of us.

We love racing and we want to be affordable to everyone. We know the sport is expensive, we really do.

Providing the level of service and quality of images we offer is expensive too. So while we can’t give our work away, we do our very best to keep our prices as low as possible.

Recently, we’ve found out about several people having photos copied at big box store photo booths and several instances of our images used for very commercial purposes. One web site developer even went so far as to try to hide the fact that they stole our images by cropping off our logo. You would think that a web developer who charges money for their service would know better than to steal content. 🙁

We do our very best to support the racing community any way we can. If you talk to us, we can find a way to make things work.

Stealing hurts everyone. Please don’t do it.

We believe that the only reason people today find it OK to steal via the internet is because it’s socially acceptable because people simply do not understand it’s wrong. So we want to help educate, not simply blame.

For more information on Copyright in Canada, please visit the Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s page called A Guide to Copyright. It’s a pretty wordy read, but we appreciate that you might take the time to read it and understand why it’s important to support us and other artists.

Help stop the theft and respect copyright of creative work.

Thanks and see you at the races!!