Rights issue: employer\employee

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by skieur, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    A lot of photo enthusiasts in non-photography jobs are being asked to take pictures at certain company, special events or even for public relations purposes.

    It is too often generally assumed that the employer owns the rights to the photos under these conditions but that is not necessarily the case.

    The legal issue is; "Was the person specifically hired to take photos? "Was taking photos part of his/her job description? Was the person paid extra beyond regular pay for taking the particular photos?

    If the answer to the above questions is NO, then the photographer retains all rights to the photos taken.

    skieur
     
  2. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    There's probably some piece of paper you signed when you first hired on that gives the company the rights though...

    I know that if I ever invent something, the company I work for owns the patent (every other job I've had was like this too), whether I invented it for work or for personal use - doesn't matter.

    If my boss asked me to take some pictures of something (damage to a part or something, most likely at my job), I'm sure that the company would consider that to be part of my job duties. (And they would say that getting extra pay for it is something I have to talk to the union about.)
     
  3. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    No, not at all. The union will tell you that the boss cannot ask you to take pictures unless it is in your job description. The legal question would be: "When you applied for the job, did they ask you about your photography skills or say that photography would be part of the job?" Was a camera provided as part of your "tools"? If the answer is NO, then you retain the rights to any photos.

    I remember reading about a case somewhere in the US, where a travelling salesman took a newsworthy photo that earned him a lot of cash. His employer tried to lay claim to the photo but a judge ruled that whether he was technically working for the employer or not, he was not hired to take photos, so the employee retained the rights to his photos.

    skieur
     
  4. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You may be right, but in my case (which is probably far from typical) even if I did own the rights - I could not do anything with them.

    Photography is strictly prohibited at work (I work for a defense contractor), but sometimes pictures do need to be taken. When we do have to take pictures of something, chances are it's classified at some level. If I were to publish any photos I took at work I would be fired right away, and possibly prosecuted. (I would have to break multiple laws just to get the pictures outside of the facility.)

    The job descriptions here tend to be pretty vague, there's a lot of room for interpretation.
     
  5. astrostu

    astrostu I shoot for the stars

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    I actually ran across a similar issue last year when someone asked to purchase my photos for commercial use, at commercial pay. The issue was that my photos were taken with my camera but on university property through a university telescope.

    I was told by a few people (a faculty member, the department secretary) that I needed to go through official university channels - at least the department chair - to determine if I could legally sell them.

    But, I didn't. I reasoned it three ways: (1) I was on my own time, and the recording device was mine. (2) The observatory manager gave me his blessing (and has even bought some of my photos taken from the observatory on campus). And, (3) I *could* have taken the photos through my own 1000 mm lens and gotten reasonably similar quality - not quite, though - and so if asked, I could always claim that I used my own equipment.
     
  6. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Yup. classified work and areas are a completely different area where different laws apply.

    skieur
     
  7. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    When it comes to taking photos, whose property you are on is irrelevant unless it is some military secret site. As to equipment, even if you used someone else's camera, you still own the rights to the photo.

    skieur
     
  8. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Seems like an easy enough problem to solve ahead of time. If I thought there would be any sort of issue I'd definitely discuss it with my employer and/or a lawyer before I did the work. Written contracts are a wonderful way to avoid the problems caused by both sides making assumptions.
     
  9. astrostu

    astrostu I shoot for the stars

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    Yeah, that's what I thought and had read elsewhere. People were just saying that it could be an issue due to it being university and therefore state property that I had used. As I said, I didn't actually bother to go through with asking official folks, but it did give me pause to think.
     

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