Is it okay to take photos of artists' works at a public festival?

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
Mackiesback
Mackiesback Senior Member • Posts: 7,167
Re: Is it okay to take photos of artists' works at a public festival?

24Peter wrote:

BrokenPhotography wrote:

https://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/when-its-illegal-to-photograph-artwork/

Summery:

If the work of art is more recent, the artist generally has the exclusive right to any reproduction, and the piece is generally covered by copyright law. In this case, “if you take a picture, you are making a reproduction and that is a copyright violation,”

This is a very grey area of course and in some cases hard to prove. However, I would ask the artist if you can have permission for take photos of his/her work. One would need to reach an agreement before simply taking pictures.

That blog (which was not written by an attorney) was referring to making reproductions of copyrighted works presumably for resale. Taking images for personal use as the OP referred to would likely not result in an actionable claim for copyright infringement since there are no damages

Couldn't people taking images of the artwork rather than buying it be considered damages? They could enlarge it, print it and hang it on their wall, injuring sales of the art itself.

(if the original artist actually registered his/her copyright then Statutory Damages may apply). There might also be Fair Use exceptions such as news, commentary, education and so on.

But generally speaking, taking photos of art displayed in a public place for personal use would not result in legal liability. Selling reproductions of that art online or elsewhere definitely would.

We do have strong rights in the US under the 1st Amendment that protect artistic expression including photographic artistic expression that includes someone else's artwork. The 1st Amendment and US Copyright law are often in conflict when it comes to balancing these rights.

Under the Fair Use exemption, commercial intent/ diminishment of the value of the underlying work is considered. The OP's photos might have actually helped this artist sell more of his work if he tagged the artist on social media. Hard to argue there the value of the artist's work has been diminished by the OP's photos.

That said, asking permission is always a good idea since you could spend thousands dollars in legal fees to prove that what you did was not actionable if the artist wanted to sue you.

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