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  1. #1
    ted_smith's Avatar
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    The law - can you sell photos you have taken of peoples' belongings?

    Hi

    On a regular basis I attend dog related fund raising events to raise money for dog shelters - I photograph people's dogs and sell the prints to their owners, donating the profits to the charity.

    I often use the best shots on my portfolio to show what I can do and obviously the owners usually buy a print or two for themselves.

    So what is the position with regards to me selling those images to other people who do not own the dogs? As long as they do not contain people, and as long as they were created in a public place, I thought I could sell them but one customer has just sent me a particular irate e-mail saying how she did not give permission to sell photos of her dog, which I have not done yet, but I was hoping to.

    I thought, as a photographer, I own the copyright, and I'm able to sell any prints as long as they do not contain people. I realise for stock libraries you usually have to have a 'property release'.

    Thanks

    Ted
    Ted Smith Photography
    Hasselblad 501CM...my 2nd love.

  2. #2
    JBrunner's Avatar
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    Property release is needed if sold for commercial purposes, ie advertising, book cover, etc. No release needed if sold as art. Keep in mind that is for here in the US, YMMV in the UK.

  3. #3

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    Even with people you'd probably be OK so long as they weren't being 'misrepresented', ie. the photograph used in an advertising campaign for such-and-such dog food which the person actually wouldn't be seen dead buying... or used alongside an editorial piece decrying aledged creulty to pets - where it might be assumed the subject of the photograph was cruel to animals. If the photo just showed people at a dog show, and was used on that basis then a model release wouldn't be needed (neither would a location release). The problem is without release forms you would need to be careful about how the photograph gets used so neither people nor locations get distorted in the way they are depicted - hence why generally speaking it's easier to get release forms filled in automatically even in situations where they might not be needed, and why stock agencies want them as a matter of course - in that way it doesn't matter how the end photo gets used.

    As for needing permission to sell photos of someone's dog... I think this website gives fairly clear advice for those in the UK. As usual, treat the value of advice as being worth what you pay for it!

    On the basis that in the UK you could take a photo of the woman herself and sell it without asking her permission or getting a signed release form from her, I think you'd be pretty safe with her pet dog! In practice the woman herself may not be aware of the 'legal' position, and believe you MUST ask her permission before selling a photo (probably before even taking the photo as well!)

  4. #4

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    This PDF also summarises the UK law (as of a couple of years ago). No matter how attached the owner may be to the dog, it is basically an item of her property and as such there is no legal requirement for you to ask her permission to photograph it (as for a moral requirement that's up to you to decide). Once you've taken the photograph you may do with it what you like.

    I have a funny feeling cats are viewed slightly differently in law and aren't seen as the property of the owner in quite the same simplistic way as dogs are.


    Disclaimer: I ain't no lawyer!


    Edit: Checked on cats - they are viewed as the property of their owners, but their owners do not have the same duty of care to keep them under control as owners of dogs/livestock do. (Road Traffic, Highways and Dangerous Dogs Acts etc)
    Last edited by Ian Cooper; 02-02-2009 at 10:45 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Checked up on Cats

  5. #5
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    I don't know the answer Ted, and with all due respect to my fellow APUGers you will probably get almost as many opinions as we have members on this matter, I would recommend you take some professional legal advice from a lawyer who knows this field .
    Ben

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by benjiboy View Post
    ...I would recommend you take some professional legal advice from a lawyer who knows this field .
    I agree!

    As I say, treat the value of legal advice you receive as being directly proportional to how much you pay for it!

    ...and if it comes from the internet, then it hasn't cost much at all!

  7. #7
    PhotoJim's Avatar
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    Beyond the legal duty, one has to consider the expectations of the public. While you might have a legal right to sell photos or publish photos, if you create ill will about your business that will affect your ability to make a living at this.
    Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

    A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.

    Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?

  8. #8

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    isn't that what richard prince has been doing forever?

  9. #9
    23mjm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Cooper View Post
    I have a funny feeling cats are viewed slightly differently in law and aren't seen as the property of the owner in quite the same simplistic way as dogs are.
    I agree the owner is more the property of the cat!!!!!

  10. #10
    ted_smith's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone, so far. What you have said is what I read to be the case. Her e-mail threw me though and made me question what I was hoping to do. However, I fully and entriely agree with PhotoJim :
    While you might have a legal right to sell photos or publish photos, if you create ill will about your business that will affect your ability to make a living at this
    . I think unfortunately people are not going to take kindly to my selling photos of their 'beloved dogs' to people they don't know, so it does not make good business sense for me to do so without prior permission. I'd get a bad reputation I think, which is not what I want at all. It makes earning a living a bit harder though!

    Ted
    Ted Smith Photography
    Hasselblad 501CM...my 2nd love.

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