Lifetouch is a photography studio which specializes in personal and family photographs as well as events. They also provide school portrait services.
2009-05-21 The sample photos from the school had a URL – photogifts.lifetouch.com – along with a "Portrait ID" and an "Access Code", but when you go to the site you have to either log in or create an account before you can see them. We tried to use the account we created last year (October 2008 -- barely 8 months ago), but the site didn't recognize it.
We then went to the main site, in case it used a different customer database. There is no log-in on the main page. "Pay for school pictures" took us to a page which said that the site will be "open for guests on July 1, 2009". "Order portrait products" took us to a page with a log-in form, but again it did not recognize the account we had created last year.
The extensive use of Adobe Flash on their web site is very annoying; it slows down the page-loading, even if you have Flash plug-ins blocked through your web browser.
As a more general criticism, we do not like their policy of claiming ownership of the portrait images. We do not pay them to create something which we then cannot copy; we pay them to create the image (work-for-hire) and to print it using high-quality reproduction techniques (optical or digital doesn't matter, as long as it's optical-quality) on high-quality photo paper.
This policy is especially inappropriate for Lifetouch to use, since they set a very short time-limit for ordering more prints (June 30, in the above case). After that, the portraits are apparently in a legal limbo where they cannot legally be copied but are also unavailable from the copyright holder.
Schools should decline to do business with studios which require this policy.