Friday, October 26, 2007

Photography and the law...

I recently listened to a podcast that really opened my eyes and made me think (is that a double cliché?), it had to do with all the things I thought I knew about photography and the law.

Episode #71 if The Digital Photography Show has an interview with Carolyn Wright and she covers the ten misconceptions of the law for photographers. What makes her an authority in this area is that she is a professional photographer, she is an attorney, and she has a law practice that focuses on law that impacts photographers. The content covered is done in an informative, interesting, and easy to understand way.

Here is just a taste of what is covered in this interview: Do you need permission to photograph a work of art in a public area? If you make money off a piece, is it automatically a commercial work? Can you put someone’s picture on your book cover without a model release?

This interview is a must listen.

Once you finish the podcast, do what I did and head directly to Carolyn’s blog "PhotoAttorney". At the PhotoAttorney blog you will find even more timely and pertinent information about photography and the law. Be sure to book mark PhotoAttorney and go back frequently as there are new entries are every 2-3 days and you do not want to miss a single one.


Carolyn has also written a book "The Photographers Legal Guide" and she was kind enough to send me a copy for review. Now normally reading a law book presents me with a difficult decision, reading the book or poking myself in the eye with a stick.... book, stick in the eye... being fond of my eyes, I read the book.

Once I read the following, I could not put the book down, I needed to know what else Carolyn had to say:

"Photographers have certain rights but often are concerned about exercising those rights for fear of being sued. It’s a legitimate concern because lawsuits can be costly and stressful, even when you win. The counter-concern is that if photographers don’t exercise their rights, they may lose them.

Take, for example, the property release. The law does not require permission to take and use a photograph of property, so no release is required. Most photographers understand that you may stand on publicly accessible land to take a photograph of a building without a release. But some photographers and users of photographs (such as stock agencies) will want a property release to use the photograph of that building to allay concerns of being sued. Some may require one only if the photograph is used commercially. Will it hurt to get one? Not in the short run, but there may be a long term negative effect.

If the building’s owner signs the property release, then you have little concern that he will sue you for the use of the photo (but it is still a possibility). But what if he refuses to sign? Then you will have to find another building to photograph and ask for permission again. What if he demands payment? You then must pay for something that you are entitled to have for free.

If the building owner signs the release, he will expect the next photographer to ask for a property release, too. If permission is not requested, will the owner sue the second photographer for doing something within his rights? Will all photog­raphers then have to get permission or pay for something when it is not legally required?

What other photographers’ rights will erode from fear of exercising them? The first step towards protecting your rights is to know them. The second is to stand up for them."

Every bit of the book is this insightful, this thought provoking, this well written. Still think you have enough of a handle on the legalities of photography - that you "don't need no stinkin' advice"? Unless you can answer ALL of the following questions correctly and with confidence, you need this book.

·When is an image considered to be copyright written?

·Can you assign, sell, transfer or give away any part of your images “exclusive rights” verbally?

·what is the difference between “Copyrighting” and “Registering”?

·can you photograph people are in public?

·Can you take a picture of the best looking house in your town and use it on your business card?

·Does Posting Photos on your website constitute publishing them?

·When you registering your website, does this protect your images as well?

·Do you know what forms you need, where to get them, and how to fill them out?

·what is the best way to protect your copyrights and prosecuting infringe?

·Retainer or Deposit, which do you use and why?

Bottom line, this book is filled with examples of real world situations that could confront any photographer and explains in clear, concise terms how they impact the photographer, and what we must do to protect ourselves..

You can purchase "The Photographers Legal Guide" here for just $9.95 as a download or $19.95 for the printed version and though it will be the least expensive thing you buy for your photography business, it will be by far the most important. You can easily recover from making a bad decision in a lens or other piece of camera equipment, but if you make the wrong legal decision it could cost you far more than you want to lose.

I do have one aspect of the book that I was extremely disappointed with, though it has a handful of the authors images, it did not have nearly enough of them. As the above picture demonstrates, Carolyn is wonderful photographer and I wish the book had a chapter of nothing but her images.

Finally, I know some of you may read this post and think it sounds like a butt kissing love fest, I do not know Carolyn Wright, we have never met, never even talked, and be assured I won't receive a penny from the sale of a single book. I think this is an extremely important topic and have always been a firm believer that it is better to act than to wait for something bad to happen and then react.

The Photographers Legal Guide is your chance to be proactive.

5 comments:

Miguel Palaviccini said...

Pretty interesting review. At first I don't think I would have thought that this book would be too helpful. Then I read all of the questions that you posted and realized that I couldn't confidently answer a single one!

Surinder Singh said...

interesting-n-informative review...

Singh Style Studio said...

Cool, informative...

Thom's Erika said...

I think you’ve made some truly interesting points. Not too many people would actually think about this the way you just did. I am really impressed that there is so much information about this subject that have been uncovered and you did it so well, with so much class. Thanks.
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Chyou Ma said...

wow great i have read many articles about this topic and every time i learn something new i don't think it will ever stop always new info , Thanks for all of your hard work!
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