Using Photos of Strangers?

Started Apr 16, 2014 | Discussions thread
OP Lisetta Contributing Member • Posts: 562
Re: Using Photos of Strangers?

Me Tarzan wrote:

Lisetta, I have followed this thread since its inception. I'll add that it would behoove all photographers to study 'fair use' of imagery as well as 'creative use', intellectual property and copyright law basics. There is a wide gap of interpretation and attempting to sell a particular image which contains a questionable subject could end unfavorably for the photographer.

Outside of people photography, if you're using a cup, plate, vase or other copyrighted item in your photograph you must also obtain permission from the copyright holder. You can't sell an image of a flower arrangement tucked inside a vase designed and sold by a business without a release because that would infringe copyright of the vase. The flowers of course are exempt.

Even taking images of a person's pet [horse, cow, dog, cat] and attempting to sell the image can become dicey as it deals with 'personal property'.

Imagery taken in museums, street photography, billboards, and most zoos are generally unsellable without releases. Keep in mind that some buildings within the larger cities have been copyrighted and require a release. We have several in my area that apply.

When in question, it's best to confer with an attorney who practices in this area of law.

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Hi Frank, Yes, I think it is possible in the world of Facebook, etc. to think that "anything goes" when it comes to photographing others (and buildings) when it just isn't so. The laws/rules are complicated and it is, imo, easy to leave yourself vulnerable to lawsuits.

I was remembering about doing something with people related to the Travel Channel a while back, for example, and if you want to sell a video to them you have to have model releases for everyone in it. Obviously that's not true for every documentary they show, but if you're selling something to them and they don't know you, they require releases. (They do buy from anyone, though, you can even suggest series to them and they are very interested in online content. Don't pay much, but they -are- interested.)

Another example... I recently wrote the White House about using a photo of the President in a book with obvious news value (something that would probably even be a benefit to him, although that's not the purpose). Typically, the law on this is crystal clear: photos taken by government employees are in the public domain (although there are a few exceptions, WH photography isn't one of them). I got back a snippy letter from their legal department forbidding any use of the photo.

I'm tempted to use it anyway with a "So, sue me!" attitude, but...perhaps cooler heads will prevail.

Anyway, I may buy Krage's book because I think this just isn't as straight-forward as it should be. I can't go to a lawyer over every photo, and model releases, while courteous imo to the subject, are a headache to get and use--


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