The plagiarism of a photograph is the direct copying of someone else’s work, or part of another’s photograph or image, including the use of clip art, or designs created by others, without acknowledgement of the original source.

Of course, photographers do copy other photographer’s work in a learning or creative process, and it’s often recommended by mentors but it’s against Copyright law to then enter the image into a competition or post it on social media as your own work because it isn’t. The problem is not the act of copying but the misrepresenting of the image as your own work.

Taking someone else’s idea and using it to make an image can be identified as plagiarism. For example, if you’ve seen an image and then set up and capture the same image with a few minor changes such as clothing colour and publish it then that would be considered to be plagiarism.

 Plagiarism is not based on subject matter such as buildings and statues but the photograph itself must be uniquely the photographer’s own work.

Copyright Law protects exclusive rights of creators of ‘artistic works’ (including photographs) to reproduce, publish, and communicate their photographs to the public, and moral and personal rights such as – the right to be attributed; the right not to have work falsely attributed; and the right to have the integrity of the artist’s work respected.

Copyright is bestowed automatically when an image is created, it does not depend upon registration.

Photographers can view the APS policy on plagiarism in the Rules of Association (  

Photographers can read about copyright law on the Australian Copyright Council website:

Any legal issues involving copyright law are between the submitter of the work in question and the person who queries ownership. It is not APS’s role to become involved in such legal matters.

Photographers entering any photographic competition, either endorsed by APS or any other governing body must adhere strictly to the rules of that competition, particularly that any image entered must be entirely the making and work of the entrant.