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MD9 says

So everybody who is selling photos of buildings and statues and such here has actually gotten a property release form signed by someone? I find this hard to believe and it seems like a ridiculous effort to go to to sell a photo unless you purposely go out to do a whole photo shoot of a particular building.

When I am traveling abroad I take photos of architecture from time to time. I have a beautiful photo of a statue of Euclid from the Museum of Natural history in Oxford. I live in Canada. How would I ever get somebody at the museum to sign a silly form allowing me to sell this image? That is a lot of hassle for me and for them for a photo which I might sell some day if I am lucky.

I have another shot of a nondescript tower in Calgary. It could be any tower in any city. Nobody will ever see that image used somewhere and say, “Hey that is my building! I don’t remember authorizing this image!” How would I even figure out who to contact about this no-name building?

I realize these procedures are followed to avoid legal problems but this is beyond silly.

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gcarpenter says

I’m not a seller – I am, however, a well-informed buyer and end user – and I agree with you. Envato absolutely needs to revisit this asap, because property releases are not generally needed and requiring them will unnecessarily hinder the selection of photography available here.

In most cases, photographs taken from a public vantage point, representing views available to typical bystanders, will always be deemed fair use.

There are only two situations where a property release might be desirable:

1. When the property is photographed from a private vantage point either on, or within the property itself. For example, a private drive, parking lot, etc., or inside a building on the property.

2. If the photograph includes art (such as an art installation, or a visible, trademarked design).

These are rare exceptions, and even in these rare cases, you would have to work very hard to find any court activity based on such points. In the vast majority of instances, no property release will ever be needed for property photographed from public vantage points.

As you noted, property releases are difficult and sometimes impossible to acquire, primarily because property owners aren’t generally familiar with them, or are suspicious of them and see no personal benefit to signing them. That is understandable, since they are rarely if ever requested to sign them, given the inherent rights photographers have to capture most publicly viewable imagery.

The bottom line is that property releases should simply not be a mandatory requirement for all images.

More information:

http://asmp.org/tutorials/photos-public-buildings.html

“Potential” exceptions:

http://www.pacaoffice.org/resources/specialReleases.html
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MD9 says

Thanks for that great info!

Since I posted here a bunch of my images were magically let through. Some still weren’t. I guess in the case of that statue, it involves art, sort of, so that could still be tricky. But honestly I don’t think the museum would care. That statue is just part of the architecture, not some featured piece, and probably made hundreds of years ago.

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hothoundz says
||+515536|gcarpenter said-|| property releases are not generally needed

You are very misinformed. The ASMP article you refer to is about photographing a building, not selling licenses of images of it. The photography here is being sold Royalty Free for commercial use. If the images were being sold RM they could be used for editorial use without releases however this is not the case. With commercial uses you have to be very careful about what is used in an RF library. Countless legal actions should show you that.

People and private properties can only be sold WITH releases. Trademarks, logos and copyrighted buildings cannot be sold.

Envato needs to specify what release/s the image has on Photodune. For example, one picture that I just saw of a private swimming pool cannot be sold RF without a release…does it have one? Who knows!

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gcarpenter says

That is not correct. Do you think postcard photos, which show dozens and dozens of large city buildings (and occasionally, crowds of people), are all backed by releases for everything viewable in the postcard? No, they are not, and a postcard is a commercial work.

You stated:

“People and private properties can only be sold WITH releases. Trademarks, logos and copyrighted buildings cannot be sold.”

The link I provided explains the few exceptions, which again, are the rare exception, and not the rule.

You cannot simply erect a structure in clear public view, and prevent the broader photographic capture of that public view, simply because you have “intercepted” a portion of it. Particularly if the structure or area in question is incidental to or just a part of the overall visual, it is highly likely that the photographer would win any challenge.

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hothoundz says

gcarpenter, take it from someone who knows the law..someone who has worked in this area for a looooong time and has an awful lot of experience.

Postcards are not a commercial in the same sense. Commercial work is there to promote a company/ buinsess/product. A postcard does not do this. Subtle difference.

Many stock companies don’t have the guts, money or will for a legal challenge. Most companies have good money to throw at legal cases which is why the law goes unchallenged and cases are settled outside in many cases.

What I said before is 100% accurate.

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gcarpenter says

hothoundz, In case you’ve studied law formally, then that makes two of us. I’m well aware of commercial nuance. I maintain that within the context of appropriate traditional sales terms, such releases are not universally needed.

If buyers are expressly prohibited from stating or implying endorsement by the subjects of imagery, or presenting them in a negative or misleading light, this effectively removes most commercial concerns from the selling equation. Improper use then becomes image misappropriation. This (appropriately) shifts the burden to end users who disregard the usage terms. Again, there are a very few specific exceptions, as noted in the preceding link.

Anyone can sue someone for any reason, or no reason. There is no shield for that. Likewise, adding a layer of unneeded bureaucracy for non-assured, internal “peace of mind” will not prevent abusive civil actions. It may, however, create substantial operational constraints and costs that outweigh any generic utility in doing so.

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hothoundz says

Well, if you’re so sure why not set-up a library of your own and take the burden of worldwide laws upon yourself? Libraries act in the way they do because they usually have neither the time nor inclination to fight legal battles. And it is always in this business better to be safe than sorry unless you are exceptionally wealthy and have lots of time on your hands.

I agree with you in that not all subjects require releases…but one heck of a lot do (for commercial use). It’s a fine line and one the editors must be well versed in.

The burden really should be on the buyer to know the law especially when an image is sold for commercial use, but many are totally ignorant. Equally, it is the responsibility of an image library to make sure that images they are selling for commercial use can be used in that way without infringing IP, trademarks, property and copyrights so that the buyers can trust what they’re buying can be used for what they want.

There is more control having potential commercial use images as RM and it seems to these days RM pays an awful lot more (in my experience) and why I no longer submit RF.

Back to the subject matter. Does your statue need a release? For commercial use yes, for non-commercial – no. Many people are using RF for magazines and blogs so wouldn’t it be better to create an editorial-only RF license instead?

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