Real Estate Photography Copyright Scenario

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by PhotoGramly, Mar 28, 2019.

  1. PhotoGramly

    PhotoGramly TPF Noob!

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    I work as a real estate photographer in Australia, currently trying to move from predominantly sub-contracting for someone else to directly contracting to real estate agencies. Not sure if it's different elsewhere in the world, but down here, it seems to be pretty common practice for agencies to charge the owners for the cost of the photos, even though I only have an agreement with the agency, not the owner.

    Where I'm trying to work out is a hypothetical situation where the homeowner decides to have a new agency take over the listing, and the new agency decides they want to come to me to ask for permission to use the original photos. Because they're a new agency I have no agreement with, and since I own the copyright, I would charge them a licensing fee in order to use those photos. The problem in my mind is that the new agency would most likely try to push the cost onto the owner once again, who would in turn be understandably upset about having to pay twice for the same photos, and probably come after me in turn.

    In reality, a new agency is much more likely to just grab the photos off the old agency without any kind of regard for the photographer, but that's when you just start sending them take down notices and threatening legal action, at which point they either decide it's not worth it to use the photos, or we're back to the above scenario where they're paying to use them.

    So in that scenario, what would you do?

    Would you try to convince the original agency not to charge the owner in the first place?

    Would you leave the initial agency agreement as is but insist that new agencies not try to charge the owner?

    Would you consider it a regrettable fact that the industry works this way but decide that it's not your responsibility and leave it at that?

    Would you try to make your agreements with the individual owners instead of agencies?

    Would you stop caring about your rights whatsoever and let any number of agencies profit from your work indefinitely? (not a fan of this approach, if it's not obvious)

    Would you do something else entirely?

    Keen to hear what others think.


     
  2. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yeah... that's pretty much where I am. The agency is my client, They write the check. I'm satisfied with that.

    Real estate photos are pretty perishable. They won't be used for long. I doubt this hypothetical will come up. And if it does, it won't be often... certainly not often enough to put a lot of time and worry into it all.

    Good luck!
    -Pete
     
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  3. AlanKlein

    AlanKlein No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    What do others do in this situation? I would follow the usual procedure to avoid conflicts with the new agencies you;re trying to do business with. If the usual procedure is to not re-charge the new agency, doing something different will cause them conflicts with their customers. This is not going to make them happy about hiring you in the future.

    As far as the sellers, their view will be they paid for the license once for a single property. The fact they changed agencies shouldn't matter to you since they were the ultimate buyer/user of the photos in any case. It seems like you're double charging for the same product.

    PS: I'm not a pro photographer. But I live and have sold and bought a home in the USA.
     
  4. PhotoGramly

    PhotoGramly TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for your perspective, it's good to get an owner's thoughts. I still need to find out what the majority of other RE photographers do (if you're reading this, let me know!) I kind of doubt agencies taking over the listing are likely to want my business in the first place though, so I'm not really worried about what they think too much.

    I can see where you're coming from, but the problem is that the agreement is between the photographer and the agency. I'm not sure if you're aware (and maybe there's a difference between Australia/US) but here, unless the agreement between the photographer and the agency includes signing over the copyright, which from my understanding is very rare and would significantly increase the price, the agency isn't authorized to do anything with the photos beyond what's agreed to in the usage section of the agreement, and that doesn't include licensing the photos to the owner.

    That's why if I had control of everything, I'd make it so that only agencies pay and the owners don't get charged at all, but in the real world I can't control that, thus the issues.
     

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