Legal Question

Discussion in 'Commercial/Product photography' started by idrivea9, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. idrivea9

    idrivea9 TPF Noob!

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    Hello,

    I have been a staff magazine photographer for 9magazine since 2001. Most of my work are cars, and use a pretty standard release that the owners sign before I shoot.

    I love courthouses and have been traveling around my state photographing them for pleasure. However, I was thinking about turning the photos into a book or calendar to help make a few bucks during these hard times.

    My question is, do I need to have a release for the country courthouses, or because they are state/government property is the release waved?

    Thanks,

    Brian
     
  2. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    No release is necessary. They are public buildings in a public place.

    skieur
     
  3. CygnusStudios

    CygnusStudios TPF Noob!

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    Now I am not a lawyer nor do I play one, but from my discussions with my attorney, here is what I have been told.

    Under some circumstances, a trademarked building may be photographed as long as the images are true to the structure.
    Example, the Golden Gate Bridge is trademarked and copyrighted. As long as I do not alter the image of the bridge to depict something it is not I am fine. If I photoshop the bridge into a scene of NY city and used it for commercial purposes, there may be an issue. If I broke the bridge up into a handful of pieces and again used it commercially, there could be a problem.

    If the buildings in question are owned privately, 99% of the time they will not be trademarked. There are exceptions like the Magic Kingdom at Disney, the TransAmerica Building, The Chrysler Building, and other major landmarks. Images taken of these buildings and used for commercial work may cause the person trouble, depending on the use.

    There are even less commercial buildings owned by the government that are trademarked. The vast majority of the time, if the image is used for commercial projects, the image has to reflect the building in the correct way.
     
  4. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Photography alone does NOT violate any object that is trademarked nor does it violate any building copyright. That is the law in the US and Canada.

    skieur
     
  5. CygnusStudios

    CygnusStudios TPF Noob!

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    Maybe you missed the part about USE in my original answer.

    Since it is easy for some to state information on online forums without backing it up with facts, here is a case where a photographer was sued for photographing the Rock and Roll hall of fame for commercial use

    Here is the short version:

    "Quote"
    In reaction to Gentile's poster, the Museum filed a five-count complaint
    against Gentile in the district court. The Museum's complaint contends
    that the Museum has used both its registered service mark, "THE ROCK
    AND ROLL HALL OF FAME," and its building design as trademarks, and
    that Gentile's poster infringes upon, dilutes, and unfairly competes
    with these marks. The Museum's somewhat unusual claims regarding its
    building design, then, are quite unlike a claim to a service-mark right
    in a building design that might be asserted to prevent the construction
    of a confusingly similar building.

    Specifically, count one of the Museum's complaint alleges trademark
    infringement, in violation of 15 U.S.C. ยง 1114(1). "Quote"


    After losing the case, the photographer did eventually win an appeal. Do you think that his lawyer worked for free? There are also cases where the photographer did not eventually win.

    Since the original question in this thread was about using the images for commercial use and gain, real facts should be presented, not opinion.

    The American Society of Media Photographers have this statment on their website regarding trademarked buildings.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2009
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    What? You expect to get bulletproof legal advice in an online forum? :lmao:

    In just about every court case there is a winner..........................and a loser. :thumbup:

    Anyone can file a suit, for just about anything, at any time. Welcome to America.
     
  7. ocular

    ocular TPF Noob!

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    Best to go to your local library and ask a librarian this, it's different in each district. Private property on a different subject usually always requires written permission..
     
  8. Imaginis

    Imaginis TPF Noob!

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    Before listening to a advice from people in an online forum, go to an attorney and get a correct answer that actually applies in your jurisdiction.
     
  9. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    From CygnusStudios:
    Quote: Originally Posted by skieur [​IMG]
    Photography alone does NOT violate any object that is trademarked nor does it violate any building copyright. That is the law in the US and Canada.skieur


    Maybe you missed the part about USE in my original answer.

    In Trademark law, infringement must involve "passing off" something as the original by using the trademark.

    Taking a photo of a trademarked building and selling it commercially is not "passing off" since no object is involved.

    Despite the argument of building owners who want to retain all rights to the image of the building, that is not in the law.

    As to producing a poster of a building, that competes with a poster sold by the building owner, trademark law does not prohibit such an action.

    skieur
     
  10. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    No release is necessary.

    skieur
     

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