Until recently, I was using Sam’s Club photo lab for my regular printing, such as prints for family and friends, etc. Once in a while I used their service for larger prints, mostly 8 x 10”, just because it was the cheapest way. I always had the copyright watermark on large prints uploaded to photo lab web site to order prints, but I was never ever asked about the ownership of the photos by Sam’s Club photo lab when I showed up to pick up the pictures (Walgreens photo lab, however, requested my photo I.D. and business card when I printed a photo with copyright watermark on it).
Last time I was ready to print an 8 x 10” at the Sam’s Club Photo Lab I took time to read their “terms and conditions”. Here is the portion of it, which explained to me why they did not ever bother about the copyright and ownership of the photo:
“You grant to samsclub.com a non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, unrestricted, world-wide right and license to access, use, copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, display, perform, communicate to the public, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, and otherwise use such Materials (in whole or in part) in connection with the Site and/or the Products, using any form, media or technology now known or later developed, without providing compensation to you or any other person, without any liability to you or any other person, and free from any obligation of confidence or other duties on the part of samsclub.com, its affiliates and their respective licensees;
You grant to all users of the Site who enter the correct Album Password, permission to access, view, store, copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, display, perform, and reproduce such Materials (in whole or in part) in any of the ways facilitated or provided by the Site;
You represent and warrant to samsclub.com and all users of the Site that (i) their use of the Materials does not and will not violate or infringe the rights (including copyright, moral rights, and other intellectual property rights and privacy and personality rights) of any other person or any applicable laws; and (ii) you have all the rights necessary to grant all rights and licenses set forth above; and
You also grant to samsclub.com the right to use your name in connection with the Materials.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, samsclub.com will not disclose, use or modify Materials for marketing purposes or any other purposes without obtaining your express permission unless required to do so by law”.
Although I understand that every service offered to public should be covered by certain rules, regulations, etc. for liability protection, this section of the “Terms and conditions”, in my opinion, is written in favor of the Sam’s Club Photo Lab, rather than their customers. Although I am not a lawyer, this agreement almost sounds like that the customers lose their rights to the photos when they upload the photos to Sam’s Club photo lab for printing. That is, you give away your pictures to the photo lab when you pay for prints of your own pictures.
In the contrary, Walgreens Photo Center provides an explanation of “copyright”, which clearly indicates that the photographer owns the pictures printed at their photo lab:
“Do I own the rights to this image?
What does it mean to won the copyright to a photograph? "Copyright" means the legal right to make copies. It protects creative artists including painters, musicians, writers, photographers and others. If you take pictures, it protects your rights, too. It means no one can copy your photographs and sell them, or put them on other objects to sell, or use them online without your permission.
By uploading your photos to the Walgreens Photo Center, you have given us permission to legally use your images only to the prints and other photo products you (or others who share your albums) may order. We promise not to use your photos for any other purpose.
Copyright also means that if you paid a professional photographer to take pictures of you or your family, that photographer may own the copyright to those images. You own the prints, but it is your responsibility to ask the photographer for written permission before making additional copies, from either paper prints or digital files.
If we believe a photo order includes images that do not belong to the person ordering them, or that may have been taken by a professional photographer, we will not make prints or other products from them until we have written permission or other evidence confirming their ownership in our files. Please respect the rights of other photographers and make sure you have this permission before uploading and printing.”
I usually do not use other photo labs for printing, and therefore not aware of the “terms and conditions” of their services. One thing is for sure, I am not going to print photos using local photo labs without fully reading the “terms and conditions”. I simply do not want to pay for prints and then give away my photos, at the same time.