Pro Bono Shoot turned legal

JoeLeeD

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Hello all,

I am seeking the advice of experienced photographers. I am more of a hobby photographer, but my Ladyfriend is attempting to build a career in it. Just having graduated college she tutors for her money and does he photography on the side till it picks up. A year or so ago, she did a pro bono shoot for one of the girls mom. She was invited into the host's apartment before the girls were to go off to prom and did a quick shoot of the girls in their dresses.

She then did an online portfolio, with access limited to the family that requested the photos, so that they could have access to the photos.

She recently took down the link and shut down the link.

Then yesterday she received a formal letter in the mail from a lawyer stating that the mom (who asked for the shoot) wanted the photos to be removed from any portfolio, and that all photos needed to be turned over to the mother. If the photos were not turned over legal action would be taken with threat of a costly proceeding.

My ladyfriend was asked to take the photos, invited into the home, did not receive any payment, never turned a profit and has not used the photos for anything other than the portfolio that she created for the mom.

Is there any legal grounds for this? Obviously an attorney thinks so, or is this just a strong arm attempt?
 

Tailgunner

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Hello all,

I am seeking the advice of experienced photographers. I am more of a hobby photographer, but my Ladyfriend is attempting to build a career in it. Just having graduated college she tutors for her money and does he photography on the side till it picks up. A year or so ago, she did a pro bono shoot for one of the girls mom. She was invited into the host's apartment before the girls were to go off to prom and did a quick shoot of the girls in their dresses.

She then did an online portfolio, with access limited to the family that requested the photos, so that they could have access to the photos.

She recently took down the link and shut down the link.

Then yesterday she received a formal letter in the mail from a lawyer stating that the mom (who asked for the shoot) wanted the photos to be removed from any portfolio, and that all photos needed to be turned over to the mother. If the photos were not turned over legal action would be taken with threat of a costly proceeding.

My ladyfriend was asked to take the photos, invited into the home, did not receive any payment, never turned a profit and has not used the photos for anything other than the portfolio that she created for the mom.

Is there any legal grounds for this? Obviously an attorney thinks so, or is this just a strong arm attempt?

Location? Country/State?

Did she have a contract?
 
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JoeLeeD

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tailgunner
new york, an no.

Amanda
Thank you for the link.
 
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JoeLeeD

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well, by law, an oral contract/agreement existed that she would take the photos and post them to a webfolio. However, oral agreements are like opinions; everyone has one and they rarely have legal basis.
 
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JoeLeeD

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she removed the site, I'm just wondering,

On what grounds can they demand the photos?
 

ShooterJ

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Well .. as I understand it, a release/contract just grants permission for the photographer to use that material as he/she sees fit.. assuming it's worded as such (obviously there are variations)

However, I don't think the absence of a release means that the photos DON'T still belong to the photographer.

If I took pictures of you and didn't have a release... I wouldn't be free to use them publicly... however, I don't see why you could demand I turn them over to you.

However, I'm not an attorney.. as was mentioned, legal advice is the safe way to go.
 

tirediron

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I'm not an attorney, don't play one on television, and don't live in the US, however, my understanding of US IP law is that I doubt very much if the client has any grounds for demanding the images. That said, someone with pockets deep enough to higher a lawyer can be a huge pain in the donkey, regardless of how right they are or are not. Have you checked to make sure that the lawyer's letter is legitimate? These days any moron can produce almost any sort of official looking document....
 

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Anyone can write a letter. I'd ignore it and get on with my life.
 

Tailgunner

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What kinda photos are we talking about?

I'm no attorney (and strongly suggest you consult one) but I don't see where the client has a legal leg to stand on. Again, I'm no attorney. So with that said, I'm curious as to what type of photos warrant hiring an attorney...privding the letter is legit.
 
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JoeLeeD

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Thank you for the advice everyone. The law advice is definitely being put into play. I however am weary of scammy lawyers. I would think that the photos, like any other artistic work are the artistic/intellectual property of the artist. Drawers, Painters, Writers do not have to relinquish works they make about other people. If such was the case, my notebooks would stripped of almost everything I've ever written.

As for the nature of the photos,
The photos were just a pre prom shoot. The girls were in their prom dresses all done up getting ready to go to prom.
 

ShaneF

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Again no lawyer here, if the mother wants the photos she can pay for them. They were taken under no contract but with obvious permission to take them. Taking them down was probably the correct thing to do but they are the photographers property so if the mother wants them she would have to get them on your friends terms. Pictures are always the photographers property unless stated otherwise by a contract.

I would not hand them over, no way no how. Again just my 2 cents get professional advice.
 
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EIngerson

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The mother let you in her house, let you take the photos (I assume even encouraged it) If she wanted the photos she could have taken her own. I wouldn't give her the time of day, let alone photos. I can't stand shady people.
 

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