10 Important Legal Issues for Photographers

When photography is your business, you need to know more than about shutter speed or aperture. Consider this quick checklist of 10 important legal issues before you next click your shutter.

  1. Will you own the copyright to the image? Yes, unless you’re shooting for your employer or it’s a work-for-hire situation.
  2. Are you on private property to take the photo? You’ll need the owner’s permission to shoot there or you’ll be trespassing.
  3. Are any people in the photograph recognizable? If so, you’ll need a model release to use the photo commercially.
  4. Does the photograph contain minors? Get the parent or guardian to sign the model release.
  5. Are you photographing a trademark? You’ll need the trademark owner’s permission to use the photo unless it falls under fair use, does not confuse the public as to the source of the photo, or does not weaken the trademark by blurring, tarnishment or dilution.
  6. Are you violating any city, county, state or federal law, such as photographing a protected nuclear facility?
  7. Are you taking a picture of a copyrighted work? If so, you’ll need the copyright owner’s permission to make a copy or derivative of the work, unless it falls under fair use.
  8. Does the person you are photographing have an expectation of privacy that you are violating?
  9. If you are paid for the shoot, do you have errors and omissions insurance policy in case you miss/ lose the important shot?
  10. Does the act of your taking the photograph interfere with or endanger others? You can’t block an emergency exit or a public sidewalk.

Search this blog for additional information on each of these topics. Remember, there’s more to the business of photography than just taking pictures.

Take my advice; get professional help.

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