Using photos you've shot for a client on your website

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by cr2sh, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. cr2sh macrumors 68030

    cr2sh

    Joined:
    May 28, 2002
    Location:
    downtown
    #1
    So the question I'm asking is, if I get payed to go out and shoot for a marketing firm.. and I take all of these impressive photos, am I allowed to use them on my site for my own portfolio? It seems like there's an obvious line here, a permission I need to get from my client.. because once they've payed me for the photos, they're not really mine any more.

    Am I being too anal or is there definitely a line here and if so.. how do you go about getting permission and is verbal approval good enough? If the answer is "just ask them if it's okay" I can do that, but if I don't want to ask a dumb question to my client if the answer is "No.. just use them."

    Any insight from the pros in the group would be very much appreciated.
    Thanks.
     
  2. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon coast
    #2
    I'm not a lawyer, but here's the way I see it.

    If you are an employee of an organization, like a newspaper or any other organization that pays you as an employee, most likely the copyrights to anything you do "officially" in the name of the organization belongs to them. They pay your salary, supply the equipment, film, lab, computers, office space, etc. You just work for them.

    If you are an independent contractor doing a job for a client, then it depends on the terms of your contract with them (hopefully you have a contract that's enforceable, or you could find yourself not getting paid) but the copyright laws generally back the photographer as the owner of the images, the copyrights belong to the photographer. The client has paid for the use of the images for a particular purpose, and that can be one-time, or several times, or for a length of time... etc. depending on what your agreement with them is. Without it being spelled out, you keep the copyright and ownership of the images, and if the client several years later decides to use the images again, or for another purpose than originally agree upon, or sells the images to a third party, you have a valid claim for damages against them.

    Bottom line: Never give up your copyright for nothing. If you are independently contracting, they're yours unless otherwise agreed upon. You could sell permanent rights to the images for a price you agree to, but that's up to you. Usually most clients will be okay with paying for specific use and not require you to sell them the permanent rights to the images.

    You could agree to sell all rights to the images and request use for self-promotion purposes, but you could never sell the images again without owning them.

    Hope this helps. :)
     
  3. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #3
    Unless you've sold the rights, they're yours, and you can do what you please.

    As mentioned above, if you're full-time for this client then the copyright is theirs (probably).

    Basically, if there hasn't been a specific "Do not use these" from the client, you're OK.
     
  4. jbernie macrumors 6502a

    jbernie

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #4
    Not someone who sells images or a lawyer.... It all depends on the language in the contract you create/sign.

    If you both agree that the client has unlimited exclusive use of the photos then thats what they have, and I guess in this case you would charge more as it is a one off transaction.

    If you both agree that the client has non exclusive rights to the content then i would expect you can reuse as many times as you like in anyway you so choose. You would charge less but can sell the same image or images multiple times so over a lifetime that one photo could be resold just once or a thousand times.

    If you are working for an organization I would expect that the employment contract you sign would state very clearly that you give up rights to any work you perform while employed for the company. In which case if you take that one amazing photo everyone wants, your company will love you.

    If you do happen to work for an organization you are probably best served to have a different model camera so that way the exif data will show what was used, though, even then if you are on the company's time they could probably say they own those photos as well.

    Know a good lawyer? :)
     
  5. dejo Moderator

    dejo

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Location:
    The Centennial State
    #5
    Before you go talking to lawyers, cr2sh, maybe you can give us more details of the agreement you signed with this client.
     
  6. cr2sh thread starter macrumors 68030

    cr2sh

    Joined:
    May 28, 2002
    Location:
    downtown
    #6
    There is no signed agreement or contract, he has always asks for an estimate before I start and then agrees to it and pays me afterwards.

    I know you guys are going to look at what I'm doing and say "Wow.. you're being dumb." but when it comes to a large company like this, it would cost more for them to have their legal look over my contract and then agree to it, then it would just to pay me $500 for a few hours of work.

    I'm going to discuss it with the client tomorrow and get the okay, it will be better to have an open dialogue with them then guess at their answer.
     
  7. dejo Moderator

    dejo

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Location:
    The Centennial State
    #7
    If you have no signed agreement, then I think you have not signed over any rights to these photos and can use them however you like.

    I'll let others weigh-in on the not-having-a-signed-agreement issue.
     
  8. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #8
    Not having a contract hurts both parties... (you should get a standard contract where the only thing that changes is the place or subject)... I'd tread carefully, although look it up: see who the rights default to.

    Anyone a lawyer?
     
  9. jbernie macrumors 6502a

    jbernie

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #9
    I won't say you are dumb, a better word might be naive. Everything is good until something goes bad and then without a piece of paper it becomes he said she said, and ultimately the small guy loses as you can't afford to pay for the legal team that they have on staff.

    Regarding the cost to them, it may cost them $500 to review your contract for $500 work but that being said, one bad law suit can cost them a lot of money not only by way of a judgement against them but also the potential loss of reputation which is normally worse.

    As termina3 said, get a simple standard contract that they can review and approve once and life is good. Have a revision # on the form so if you make changes over time they can reapprove.

    You then only need to complete items such as cost, date, subject, exclusive/non exclusive rights, hand over all media/retain copies of media. Can be just simple check boxes. Have two copies every time, both parties sign and date both copies and you have them on file.

    Your cost is maybe $30, but long time it could save you thousands.
     
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #10
    You shot them they are yours unless you sold them either an exclusive license or full rights. Most photographers charge a LOT more for this. You can't sign over the rights without an agreemant. By default if there is no other agreement you own the copyright.

    If they hired you as an employee then they own your work. Where you on the payroll?

    If none of this applies they are your photos the client does not own them
     
  11. kuebby macrumors 68000

    kuebby

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    SFV
    #11
    I have a funny story about this. My parents were looking for a professional photographer a couple years ago and were talking to a guy their friends had used years earlier. He showed them an album of his prints and it was a wedding that my parents had attended 15 years ago, they were in the photos.
     

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