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Sandy Abbott

4 Days Ago

Legally Speaking: What Is The Law About Selling A Photo With An Unknown Person In It?

I am a photographer and I often take pictures at the beach etc where there are people and or dogs standing around. Mostly they are too far away to recognise but I am wondering what the law is about including a person in a photo for sale without their permission. See example below. What if it is just a picture of a dog, do I need the owners permission?
Sandy Abbott
http://www.stunningartphotos.com.au/

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Philip Preston

4 Days Ago

Firstly, I am not a lawyer, and if you want a definitive answer to your question and your particular circumstances, suggest you speak to a lawyer. For what it's worth, where I live (UK) people have no right to privacy in a 'public space', so providing the persons you photograph are in a public space you can photograph them, and sell those photographs, eg, through a stock photo agency for editorial use. This may, or may not, be the situation for photographing people in other countries.

 

Roy Pedersen

4 Days Ago

As usual I'm not a lawyer but if it was taken in a public place there should be no problem for our kind of work. If it was used in a defamatory way that would be different.

 

David Smith

4 Days Ago

Depends on where the photo was taken.

Every jurisdiction has different laws.

 

Sandy Abbott

4 Days Ago

Thanks everyone for your info.
Sandy

 

Abbie Shores

4 Days Ago

Everyone, even minors, is entitled to a right of publicity, which is an individual’s right to control their own likeness and to stop others from using it commercially without permission.

Photography for artistic purposes, however, generally does not require model release forms because an artist’s First Amendment rights tend to trump an individual’s right to control their own image.

However, to protect yourself in case of any further actions, it is better to cover yourself and have permission given before you use the images, especially if the person is recognisable. For instance, do they show a tattoo.. do they have a distinguishing feature or item of clothing?

But people with no permission should only be used on prints, not products.

 

Edward Fielding

4 Days Ago

Fine art - fine.

Commercial application - no

....
Inversely - As a photographer, we can't go after them for mucking up our landscape shot by choosing to stand in front of us. They have the right to stand in front of our cameras in public spaces.

 

Jeff Sinon

4 Days Ago

I "think," as long as the person isn't identifiable, as in your sample image showing the person from the back, the sky is the limit, you can do whatever you want with it. But, as soon as the person becomes identifiable (recognizable, facing the camera), you're limited to fine art before you'd need permission to use the image.

As others have stated, check your local laws first.

 

Doug Swanson

4 Days Ago

With the usual "not a lawyer" admonition, I make a point of not having people in the picture if they are recognizable. When it comes to street photography, shot from a distance, who knows, how far away do you have to be, are they the focus of the picture, etc. The person would have to know that you have them in the picture, that you sold it and that there is a fortune to be made from their part of the $10 commission. It doesn't seem like much of a target for a lawyer as long as you don't do anything awful or defamatory.

I have seen people who post what is obviously a portrait, or recognizable close-up of a real person on FAA. I'd want to be clear on permission before I did that.

 

Adam Jewell

4 Days Ago

As a general rule, I don't post anything for sale with a recognizable person in it just to be safe. By that I mean, I avoid posting if someone's face is in it. I usually try to avoid people in photos but sometimes a figure can give a sense of scale. Silhouettes in certain spots can make nice shots too. I wouldn't hesitate to post a photo like the one in the opening post. The person in it might recognize themselves from the rear but anyone who doesn't know them wouldn't know who it is.

 

Chuck De La Rosa

4 Days Ago

There's an old saying that is very applicable here, "when in doubt, bale out".

Abbie is correct when it comes to US law. Like Adam, I avoid shots with people in them but would not hesitate to use one that has no recognizable faces in it. But you're in Australia. Best to check with an attorney on Australian privacy laws and how photography is viewed within those laws.

 

Mike Savad

4 Days Ago

as far as i know, not speaking as a lawyer, you can sell things like that as art, but not stock. i try to get people in groups, or their backsides, or faces covered when i can. because even if you legally in the clear, it doesn't mean that the person in that image wants to be sold, even if you are allowed. like one guy shot with a high powered zoom, people's apartment windows, and sold them. they took him to court but he won. but he still went to court.


----Mike Savad
http://www.MikeSavad.com

 

Alison Frank

4 Days Ago

Is selling from here considered "commercial?"

 

Val Arie

4 Days Ago

Alison I think art /wall prints are considered artistic, not falling under commercial until the image is put on products.

When thinking of recognizable we always refer to the face assuming it is fine if we photograph the back of the person as if that makes them unrecognizable. I would imagine that could have the potential of causing an issue as well.

Just sayin the woman in the photo example is most likely very recognizable to some and her own self.

 

Bill Tomsa

4 Days Ago

Anyone notice that this isn't as much of a problem since the Pandemic and almost everyone is wearing a mask in public and therefore are unrecognizable anyway?

 

Edward Fielding

4 Days Ago

Mask or no mask. It wasn't a problem.

The only problem with the mask is it dates the photo.

See: WeeGee, Walker Evans, Street Photography, Andy Warhol's Elvis or Marilyn series, anything by Richard Prince.

 

Mary Bedy

4 Days Ago

I have a few freighter shots where people are in their pleasure craft next to the much larger ship. Usually they are facing away from the camera and looking at the freighter, but in the couple I have where the face is possibly recognizable, I've blurred out features of the person's face just to be sure and I always remove the registration number on the pleasure craft if it's visible on the boat. Just to be on the safe side.

 

Lois Bryan

4 Days Ago

.

 

Edward Fielding

4 Days Ago

Commercial photography involves the taking of photographs for commercial uses (product shots, head-shots, etc). These photographs are often used for the promotional marketing of a business including website placement, product previews, and business card/marketing material images.

Fine art photography is created for the image alone. Not to push some other product.

 

Chuck De La Rosa

4 Days Ago

Allison yes, it could be commercial. In addition to what Ed said, products like mugs, calendars, tee shirts, etc. are considered commercial use. But prints, no, they are considered art.

Oddly enough if it's published in an art book, like a coffee table book, it's still considered fine art even though it's mass produced.

However, none of this will prevent someone from suing over the use of their likeness. Doesn't mean they will win, but do you have the time and resources to defend it?

 

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