07 Jul How to start a Photography business in Nigeria: The Legal Issues
Starting a Photography Business: The Legal Issues
The last few years has seen the rise of the creative industry as people have begun to approach it with more professionalism. Case in point is the photography business. In present day Nigeria being a photographer is now a highly coveted and sought out profession. It is a well-paying profession, and there always seems to be a demand for the services of quality photographers.
In this article, we discuss 3 of the important things you need to consider from a legal perspective when you want to set up your business as a professional photographer.
Step 1: Set up a proper Business Structure
In order to set up your photography business there are really only one of 2 types of business structures which you can adopt. You can either set up a registered business name or a limited liability company.
A registered business name provides you with a flexible business structure with very little formal restrictions placed on you as the business owner. However, the biggest legal risk is the fact that there is no separate legal personality between the owner and the business. In other words, in the eyes of the law, the owner of the business and the business are one and the same. This means that the owner has unlimited personal liability for things which emanate from the business. This personal liability can be towards customers, competitors, lenders, employees, and even the government.
An illustration of this would be if you got a contract to cover a wedding, and after the event you transferred all the photos unto your computer and your computer got damaged and all the photos were irrecoverably lost. You as the owner could be sued by your client, and because there is no separate legal personality, you would be sued in your name as well as the business, and any legal liability would be unlimited towards you as the owner. Therefore, something that happened in the business could easily bankrupt you the owner.
On the other hand, setting up a limited liability company is generally the preferred structure for doing business in Nigeria, as it gives you the founder, limited liability from the company. The company has a separate legal personality from the person/people who set it up.
From the perspective of a photography business, it is also has certain tax benefits, for instance when you buy new (expensive) photography equipment, it can be purchased in the company name and then classified as a cost of the business rather than a personal expense.
We therefore suggest that setting up a limited liability company is probably the best structure for a photographer to decide to adopt. You may read our article here explaining the Benefits of a Limited Liability Company.
Step 2: Protect your Intellectual Property
The next thing you need to consider is how you ensure your intellectual property (IP) is protected. The first issue under IP protection is your brand. Photographers live and die their brand, that is why a lot (if not all) photographers tend to include a watermark on their pictures. You should therefore try to protect your brand by registering the trademark. You can read more about registering your trademark here: How to Register your Trademark in Nigeria
The next aspect of your IP is the ownership in pictures taken. The branch of law that covers this is copyright law. The rule is that it is the photographer that has the copyright in pictures taken. However, this rule may be displaced if there is a contract between the client and the lawyer where copyright is given to the client, or where the general state of affairs and negotiation between both parties would suggest that the intellectual property in the pictures will belong to the client. Copyright ownership tends to lead to issues between the photographer and the client, and so it is important that this is clarified before work commences. Ideally it should be clearly stated in the contract for service.
Step 3: Have the appropriate contracts in place
As mentioned in the previous step there should be a contract for service. This contract is the standard contract which the photographer will share with all intending clients, and it sets out the extent of the rights and duties of both the photographer and the client. It will deal with things like fees, intellectual property, schedule of work, timings for completion etc. This is the most important tool that a photographer should have (second only to a camera).
If you are ready to start your photography business in Nigeria, and would like assistance in registering your business, protecting your trademark, and drafting a watertight terms of business, then you should speak to a lawyer.
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