Real Estate Photography image rights

Started 6 months ago | Discussions thread
Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 15,645
Re: Real Estate Photography image rights

ampimagedotcom wrote:

Michael Fryd wrote:

ampimagedotcom wrote:

Michael Fryd wrote:

ampimagedotcom wrote:

.. some sort of 'Work Made for Hire' agreement ...

Strangely, in the USA...

Unless the photographer was an employee, or the work fell into one of the nine enumerated categories, it is not a "Work Made for Hire," even if there was a "Work Made for Hire" agreement.

So what do 'you guys' call it, if someone agrees to pay you for your time & expenses to do the work, instead of or in exchange for the the Rights to use your images afterwards?

In the context of US Copyright Law, “Work Made for Hire” has a specific meaning...

I know all of that - the question was: what do 'you guys' call it, i.e. the "Work Made for Hire" agreement that you mentioned, that isn't actually one because it does not fall into the “Work Made for Hire” category?

I would also love to see what you would ask a client to pay you for in both cases, i.e. I would love to see the two Quotes or the two Agreements that you would ask a client to sign beforehand - so I can actually see how different they both would look.

Generally, it would be called the "contract" between the two parties. It would include the responsibilities of each party. For instance, it might specify the client would pay $X on a certain schedule, what deliverables the photographer will provide.

For instance, it might provide that the photographer will create a headshot, or provide 5 hours of wedding coverage, including at least X number of images. It may specify that a certain number of deliverable images are included, and that additional images are extra. it may specify what level (if any) of retouching is provided. It may specify that the deliverable in a physical print, a photo album, etc. For retail clients it would generally specify that the images are licensed for personal use only. For a corporate client the license may specify an unlimited license, or the images are restricted for a certain time period. This is similar to the way a modeling agency may consider the required release when quoting a fee for the model. The model may charge more for a release that covers all media worldwide for 5 years, then for a release that's limited to a single web site for one year.

Issues that vary wildly between different photo contracts include:

  • Who ends up owning the copyright?
  • Does the client have an unrestricted license or are there limitations (i.e. non-commercial use only)?
  • Doe the photographer have the right to use the images however he wants, or are there contractual restrictions? (i.e. printed portfolio use only, or the photographer may not show the images at all)
  • Are these licenses exclusive? Is the client the only one who gets a license, or is the photographer free to license the images to others?
  • Does the client grant a model release to the photographer, and if so, what is the extent of that release?

If you Google "sample photo contract" you will find lots of examples.

For instance is a sample contract where the client pays for the photographer to take the images, the only deliverable is a "look book of proofs" or sample files. If the client actually wants any images, that's an extra cost. is a contract where the photographer is paid for hourly services, and transfers the image copyright to the client. specifies that the photographer retains copyright, grants the client a non-exclusive limited license for non-commercial use, and even requires a photo credit for any publication. Furthermore, the contract contains a model release from the client to the photographer allowing him to use their likeness in a an unrestricted commercial fashion. Furthermore it contains a contractual prohibition on the client even selling a print without the photographer's permission. The client is not allowed to alter any of the images, although the photographer can alter the images.

This is just a quick sampling of photography contracts I found in 30 seconds with Google. As you see, there are a wide range in who ends up with what rights.

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