On the same day eight years ago, the World Trade Center attacks forever changed the World. For known or unknown reasons, the attitude towards photographers from some public and law enforcement seemed to have become worse. Knowing your legal rights is very important to avoid running into troubles and handle unfortunate situations properly.
We have in the past compiled a list of legal resources for photographers. One new addition is Legal Rights of Photographers written by Andrew Kantor. It is a 8-page PDF document clearly showing you what is legal and what is not legal to take photos of, what you’d expect, how to get yourself prepared for various situations, and some references.
In this story, a mommy blogger got her family photo stolen and the photo ended up in an ad in a Czech Republic grocery store, advertising its quick home delivery service.
Well, something like this (or even worse) can happen to anyone who posts digital photo online in blogs, social networking sites, or photo sharing sites. Putting the note “All right reserved” next to the photo doesn’t deter people who are determined to copy your image.
There some good advices offered in the story:
When a photo gallery or photo sharing website holds your digital photos hostage and demands payment to avoid the total destruction of your photos that were uploaded to the site based on the promise of “free” service, consumers like you can get stuck. When you clicked on “Accept” on the Terms and Services (TOS) during sign-up process, you might not have read it thoroughly and you perhaps missed the fine prints in the TOS allowing them to change the TOS whenever they want.
That’s what happened to a user of Kodak Gallery. The customer found out that she now has to spend at least $4.99 a year on prints or other products to keep her photos on Kodak Gallery from being deleted. It certainly sucks standing in the consumer’s shoes. However the business has the goal of making money. Kodak simply wants to focus on its best customers, not folks who merely want to take advantage of free picture storage. And its new rules are hardly unusual in the online photo business.
Even if you pay for the service from beginning, it is still not certain you will have access to the original photos without paying extra. Some sites are charging extra to download original high resolution photos. Some sites may suddenly go out of business and take all of your photos with it. Especially for those sites are offering unlimited free storage and sharing but doesn’t seem to have any valid business model to generate revenue.
What’s the virtue of the story? Keep a safe backup of your own photos yourself.
You are probably familiar with Chuck Westfall, but how about the fake Chuck Westfall. Just like the fake Steve Jobs blog, it is a parody blog. Every visitor should be able to find that out just by seeing the word “Fake” all over the place and reading the absurd posts. However Canon and their lawyers don’t seem to think so or still don’t like that. They sent a take down notice to the hosting company WordPress. Fortunately WordPress stood firm behind the blog (a Canon logo was however removed by the blog owner). My words to Canon: Why not save some legal expenses in such a bad economy?
Read more about this at:
Remember this poster? It became very popular during the last year’s presidential campaign. Now Associate Press is claiming the author created the work based on AP’s photo so AP is entitled for compensation. The accused, Shepard Fairey, claims fair use through his attorney. Infringement or fair use?
There have been many horror stories of photographers getting into trouble with over zealous property owners and law enforcement officers even when the photographer is well within his or her legal rights to take the photograph. Knowing what can happen in such situations, what legal rights you have as a photographer, and where you can find legal information and help are all important aspects of your photography learning that can help you to enjoy photography with confidence and avoid getting into series trouble.
Here are some useful photography law resources:
Perhaps you have heard the horror stories that some unlucky photographers got harassed by law enforcement officers or concerned citizens when taking photos at public places. Knowing your rights and related laws can prevent you from getting into a stressful and costly legal trouble.
USA Today published an article by talk show host Kim Komando, listing some very common picture-taking scenarios photographers face and how they should be approached. Read: Think twice before taking pictures in public.
It is fun to take photos but not so fun to have a run-in with the law, unless you want some attention and publicity badly. On the other hand, you probably want to know the legal rights as a photographer so you can protect your work and enjoy photography without any fear. Here is a good collection of legal issues for photographers.