Fear of Lawsuits

Photographers have certain rights but often are concerned about exercising those rights for fear of being sued. It’s a legitimate concern because lawsuits can be costly and stressful, even when you win. The counter concern is that if photographers don’t exercise their rights, they may lose them.

Take, for example, the property release. Readers of my blog know that the law does not require permission to take and use a photograph of property, so no release is required except when trademarks or copyrighted works are at issue. Most photographers understand that you may stand on public accessible land to take a photograph of a building without a release.

Some photographers and users of photographs (such as stock agencies) want a property release to use the photograph of that building to allay concerns of being sued. Some want it only if the photograph is used commercially. Will it hurt to get one? Probably not in the short run.

If the building’s owner signs the property release, then you have little concern that he will sue you for the use of the photo. But what if he refuses to sign? Then you will have to find another building to photograph and ask for permission again. What if he demands payment? You then must pay for something that you are entitled to for free.

If the building owner signs the release, he will expect the next photographer to ask for a property release, too. If permission is not requested, will the owner sue the second photographer for doing something within his rights? Will all photographers then have to get permission or pay for something when it is not legally required?

What other photographers’ rights will erode from fear of exercising them? The first step towards protecting your rights is to know them. The second is to stand up for them.

Take my advice; get professional help.

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