Legal question on photographing vehicles

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Vmann, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. Vmann

    Vmann TPF Noob!

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    I havent been on here in a long time but I need some help with a legal question. Before I contact a lawyer and have to spend 50 plus to get something answered in thirtys seconds. I was hoping some one on here might have some insight.

    Im a graphic designer by trade and recently designed a vehicle advertising wrap on a truck. The place I worked for won't let me use any photos I used while under there employment. I tried getting hold of the owner to see if he minds if I get some photos of his vehicle to include on some of my website/portfolio. The problem is there realistically is alot of projects I have done like this and getting a hold of every company head to garner permission to shot the vehicles is time consuming or I get the brush off. My question is if I where to drive by where the vehicle is parked in public view. Do I have the right to photograph the vehicle and use it for my own pupose of showing my designs to potential clients/employers.

    Thanks in advance.

    PS if there is a better place for this to be posted, please have a mod or admin move it.
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I would think that if it's in public, then you are OK. I may be wrong, but I don't think there is any restriction if you are just using the image for your personal portfolio...because you aren't actually selling the image.

    As always, I'm not a lawyer, so don't take my advice as such. Maybe you could call some professional photographers...maybe at a newspaper. They might have a good answer for you.
     
  3. darich

    darich TPF Noob!

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    might be an idea to blank out/blur the registration number to prevent anyone identifying the car as theirs
     
  4. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    I think you need to take advice. Did you sign a confidentiality agreement with your previous employer? This may not be as easy as it sounds......
     
  5. darich

    darich TPF Noob!

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    i think if the vehicle is on the public highway you can photograph it no problem with a couple of conditions.

    firstly you won't be allowed to shoot from private land without the land owners permission

    secondly you shouldn't photograph the truck in a position/location that could be taken as derogatory or defamatory eg outside a sex shop that may imply the company or driver is using those services.

    But if it's driving along or parked on the road and you happen to be passing then i don't think there's anything that people can do to stop you.
     
  6. tr0gd0o0r

    tr0gd0o0r TPF Noob!

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    That's pretty crappy of your previous company to not allow you to use your work in a portfolio. It seems like they would at least let you use your work in a portfolio. If you do end up seeking legal advice from a lawyer, I'd recommend brining your contract with the company and see if you would be allowed to personal use of your work.
     
  7. morydd

    morydd TPF Noob!

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    Not a lawyer, but here's my take.
    When you do "work for hire" when you're done, the work belongs to the company, not to you. They have every right to refuse to allow you to use the work for any reason. Just like work you do for yourself, you may determine who may and may not use it.

    That said, probably, no one can stop you from taking pictures of a vehicle in a public place. The problem I see is that if the company doesn't want you using the pics in your portfolio, you probably will have a very hard time proving that you actually did the work at all. Probably not the best choice for portfolio pieces anyway.
     
  8. midget patrol

    midget patrol TPF Noob!

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    As crappy as it is, it's pretty standard. Many, many, many businesses will claim rights, in the contract, to any creative work produced while under the employment of said company (photography, poetry, writing, music, etc.).

    If it's in public, yeah, you're fine. For good measure, i might blur out the tags.
     
  9. Vmann

    Vmann TPF Noob!

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    I did sign a connfidentiality agreement with the company. But my take on it is that after the said matter and the vehicle is returned to the owner the artwork is no longer the company's but the customers. They paid for the services and my taking a photo is not voiding a contract to protect trade secrets or proipetry information. Being that the vehicles are advertising vehicles meant and purpose built to draw attention to themselves. Alot of designers I've talked to take photos of the finished projects, because the work itself in the end belongs to someone else but the finished project is free game if made publically viewable. You would have to know the company I had worked for. Its owned by a bunch of young adults who take the attitude no matter what you do there right. I'm going out of my way to be nice to the ex-employer about all this but being threatened with court and the like isn't something I want to just sit back and not fight. Before anyone says you should really get real legal advice in the last day I have contacted some lawyers who stated that yes I signed a contract but me taking photos of a vehicle in a public place shouldn't void any contract. That being, I'm not doing anything more than displaying a photo of my own not the company's. He put it like this... If budwieser had a poster of there product on a wall and I toke a photo of the wall that so long as I'm not selling the photo and even then If they did'nt want the photo taken they should'nt place it in a place of public view.

    Yes, tag's will be blurred... I am be no means trying to give the owners of such vehicles any trouble or let out any info they don't want. My new problem is they are trying to say that me getting permission to use such photographs (I am trying to get permission first from the vehicles owner just to let them know your vehicle will be used and I am providing links back to there web-site) is solicting for services.

    This is for Morydd... the reason I'm using photographs is yes they could say I never designed that but it's the same a photography portfolio. How do you really prove in a ten minute viewing to a client that you really are the person who toke the photos. Yes I know you could show them the negs, or digital files but how many people ask to see those. It's done in good faith and a future employer would find out in the first few projects if your said skills matched what they viewed. The other problem is most employers you work for full time aren't to hip on you doing freelance work while under there employment. So I shouldn't showcase a years worth of work but also not take on any side work that I could showcase. Thats my problem. I also show other work besides this employers it's just I did a few things I really would like future employers to know that I designed.

    Here is the site that I've been displaying work on. On a side note the photography section is really lacking. I've primarily want to focus on the design side.

    http://www.vmannimaging.com
     
  10. CCericola

    CCericola Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    No, just as stuff I did while I worked for a design company is not on my website. It belongs to the company not you. The end client does not own the design by default either. It depends on their contract. The old strategy was you kept copies, used them in your printed portfolio for interviews but never on your website if you also freelanced. You need your company's permission not the clients.

    You are free to take public pictures and post them. But as soon as you claim the design you will be in hot water. If you are a member of AIGA or GAG they can give you your info. It's part of your dues.
     
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  11. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    This is not as cut 'n dry as many people might think. Laws can vary by jurisdiction... but in general, here's the rule that applies most of the time.

    If you grabbed a camera all on your own and decided to photograph something, then YOU own the images... it does not matter where you were standing or where the vehicle is parked. You could break in to private property wearing stockings on your head to get that shot... you still OWN the images (you might not want to publish those images as they may tend to incriminate you ... but gosh darn it you OWN them!)

    BUT... if, while on the clock, your boss asked if you to go take some photos of that truck (so technically you are being paid by your employer while this is happening and doing something that your employer asked you to do), then TECHNICALLY... your EMPLOYER owns those images in most jurisdictions and it doesn't matter who held the camera or pressed the shutter button.

    If you are an "hourly" employee, then you literally would have to be "clocked in" at the moment you took the photograph. If you were off duty, on a break, etc. or any situation in which they are not actually paying for your time, then the images are yours. However... if you are a salaried employee, then in theory you are always on the clock. So it would not necessarily matter if you were technically on a break or doing it after normal working hours.

    If you perform any type of work where you were being paid to perform the work, then the person who hired you to perform that work owns the results of that work UNLESS there is a contract that states otherwise. THIS IS WHY any "pro" photographer SHOULD have a contract that makes it clear who owns the intellectual property rights on the work that has been performed.

    BTW, this isn't a law for photographers... it's a law for anyone. If you are a software developer and you write a program on your own time and then try to find customers to buy it, then you own the rights to it. But if you write the program while "on the clock" (hired by an employer), then it doesn't matter that you did all the thinking and coding and testing... the employer owns the program. The ultimate question that it boils down to is ... in the absence of a contract that says both parties agreed to some other rule... the default is that the person who paid for your time owns the fruits of your labor.
     
  12. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    It would seem that your employer is trying to suggest that photos taken while under their employment belong to the employer. This is a common mistake that has been ruled on in case law. If an employee is hired by an employer to take photos then yes, those photos belong to the employer. IF however taking photos is NOT part of your job description then you own the photos and all copyrights to them.
     

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