Sunday, July 6, 2008

Legal Issues

I took this photo of a street musician in Washington, DC last July. I politely asked if I could take his picture and he said sure. I told him to keep playing, shot a few photos, thanked him, put money in his flute case, and went on my way. Since then I have included this image in my web gallery, but I have been reluctant to use any of the photos as a printed, fine art prints since I did not get a model release.

My question has been, do you really need a model release to use a photographer of a stranger in a fine art print that may be displayed in an art show, or even sold? Another legal question of mine relates to copyright. Is putting a copyright notice on a photograph really legal protection?

A final question that has gotten a lot of play on photography websites concerns taking photos in and around public buildings. It seems that many photographers, especially when using a tripod, have been approached by security guards and told to stop photographing in public places. In some instances photographers have told of being asked to turn over their memory card (the image comes to mind, no doubt from an old movie, of a photographer having his or her camera opened and the film torn out — a much more dramatic than surrendering a memory card).

Low and behold, answers to these question came in the form of a two part YouTube video on Scott Kelby's (yes, Scott Kelby again - he publishes good stuff) Photoshop Insider July 4th post. The video is an interview with Intellectual Property Attorney Ed Greenberg.

It seems that a fine art photographer can use a photo of a person without a model release for limited edition prints (you have to wait until the end part II for that information), just writing a copyright notice will not hold up in a court of law (but there are recourses), and in most instances photography in public spaces is legal.

Here is a link to the post — the two-part video is really worth viewing.

Later in the week I will start sharing some other blogs of interest to digital photographers.

Addendum: On Monday morning I came across another blog post with links to information about the legality of taking photographs in public places. The blog is The Online Photographer and the post was dated July 3 — click here to link to the post.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I would be interested in learning what answers you find for the questions. I am a busker myself (in NYC) and I am photographed a lot.
    I know there is a busker in NYC called the 'Naked Cowboy' - he is suing a company for using his image without permission, but it wasn't a photograph they used (they made his likeness I guess as a cartoon? for an ad).
    Anyway - interesting questions.

    By the way - if you ever visit NYC - I would be honored if you took my picture.

    All the best,

    Saw Lady