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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi.

Complete newbie here, so I apologize if this is a tired question to the experienced members here.

Let's that I wanted to write a travel memoir featuring an overseas city or region that I have often visited, and I have -- for personal purposes, just as a tourist -- taken photographs of many of the buildings and sights that I wish to mention. (I am just an amateur photographer, not a professional.)

If I wanted to use some of my own photographs to illustrate such a book, then would I need to acquire a property release for each and every building that I wished to depict via my own snapshots? E.g.:
-photo of building X on page 10 - property release from owner of building X
-photo of museum Y on page 11- property release from owner of museum Y
-photo of castle Z on page 12 - property release from owner of castle Z
and so forth?

Property releases from every owner of every single individually depicted structure?

And if that is what would be required, then would I have to go through a lawyer in the overseas city or region in question to obtain all of these property releases?

I mean, how would one even begin to find whom to contact for every structure, and what sort of form (in the language of the overseas area in question) to send them?

Perhaps I'm not understanding this correctly. It would seem like a Herculean task.

Any information on this score would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Sorry for replying to my own thread, but I just realized that I left out the second half of my query, which is as follows:

If the scenario that I have outlined above is accurate (i.e., that I would need to secure basically the same number of property releases as the number of my own photographs that I wished to include in such a book), then would sourcing the photos of the structures in question from a stock site like Shutterstock free me of the need to obtain ANY property releases? At all?
 

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Sorry for replying to my own thread, but I just realized that I left out the second half of my query, which is as follows:

If the scenario that I have outlined above is accurate (i.e., that I would need to secure basically the same number of property releases as the number of my own photographs that I wished to include in such a book), then would sourcing the photos of the structures in question from a stock site like Shutterstock free me of the need to obtain ANY property releases? At all?
I think you would need property releases for each property, but I’m not positive. However I do know for sure that if you use a proper stock site like Shutterstock for the pics then you don’t need to get releases, because the photographer would have already obtained any releases that were required. And the nice thing about proper stock sites is that they will indemnify you if a pic happens to slip through that shouldn’t have. Just make sure you don’t use any pics that say Editorial Only.
 

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I am no expert, but I think the copyright for a photograph belongs to the photographer. So, if that is you, and the subjects of those photos are public buildings, you would be okay to use them. However, if there are any people in the photographs that you don't know, you should photoshop them out. Also, if you have taken any pictures of private residences you would need permission from the owners.
 

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I am no expert, but I think the copyright for a photograph belongs to the photographer. So, if that is you, and the subjects of those photos are public buildings, you would be okay to use them. However, if there are any people in the photographs that you don't know, you should photoshop them out. Also, if you have taken any pictures of private residences you would need permission from the owners.
The copyright does belong to the photographer. But there might be things in the pic that are copyrighted to their owners. You can’t use pics that contain store signs, for example. Or images of things that are trademarked. Also, some buildings are not allowed to be photographed, because the design belongs to the person who designed it.
 

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I had to come back from my 30 day sabbatical from posting to reply to this.

In the US copyright for buildings applies to Post 1990 construction. You can take photos of such prior constructed building inside and out, but if they have say copyrighted paintings or artwork on the wall, or say statues as works of art, then you could get into difficulties.

In France copyright of buildings last for 70 years after the death of the architect, so such as the Eifel Tower is out of copyright. However, seeing as how 20,000 bulbs were added to light it up at night, it became a work of art and so night time photos are subject to copyright and it would be illegal to use them for commercial purposes without permission However, during the day is now in the public domain, so taking photos and using them on a cover is not a problem.

The Golden Gate Bridge is not subject to copyright, but it is trademarked??? So that is something else to check out besides copyright of constructions.

Then there is the subject of freedom of panorama. In say the UK, there is freedom of panorama for commercial photos, but in France although they allow panorama shots for private use that include copyrighted buildings, they are not allowed for commercial use..

In Jamaica copyright is 95 years after the death of architect which as far as I know is the longest period after death, but it varies country to country, so really you'd need to check the copyright laws for the country where you took the photo. An ancient castle is unlikely to be subject to copyright, but don't take my word for it.

Shayne is right that it is best to use stock photos where permissions are obtained and the site indemnifies you against claims. I'd want to read the stock photo's sie contract terms to be sure of this.

This site is worth reading. One thing is for sure, it states that landscapes used as a background without architecture is "nature" and cannot be copyrighted. The other thing I found odd, is that photographers of a building don't need a property release to sell the photo, but a publisher is responsible for obtaining permissions, which sounds odd in relation to what is said about stock sites indemnity?

Keep it legal blog - Dan Heller photographer
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
"photographers of a building don't need a property release to sell the photo, but a publisher is responsible for obtaining permissions, which sounds odd in relation to what is said about stock sites indemnity?"

That is . . . utterly baffling. But thank you for mentioning this.

How in the world, one wonders, would this affect a self-publisher? Is one safe if one uses photos from, say, Shutterstock? Or does the fact that one is self-publishing one's own work make one a publisher and therefore in need of some/any sort of additional releases, in addition to whatever releases the stock company's photographers acquired when they uploaded their photos to the stock site?

And . . . whom could one contact to be absolutely sure? Some sort of lawyer who specializes in overseas property releases? Are there any such entities? If so, how does one find them? Would it have to be a lawyer in the land in which the building/structure in question is located?

If even a stock-photo purchase doesn't make a self-published author safe . . . yikes.
 

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"photographers of a building don't need a property release to sell the photo, but a publisher is responsible for obtaining permissions, which sounds odd in relation to what is said about stock sites indemnity?"

That is . . . utterly baffling. But thank you for mentioning this.

How in the world, one wonders, would this affect a self-publisher? Is one safe if one uses photos from, say, Shutterstock? Or does the fact that one is self-publishing one's own work make one a publisher and therefore in need of some/any sort of additional releases, in addition to whatever releases the stock company's photographers acquired when they uploaded their photos to the stock site?

And . . . whom could one contact to be absolutely sure? Some sort of lawyer who specializes in overseas property releases? Are there any such entities? If so, how does one find them? Would it have to be a lawyer in the land in which the building/structure in question is located?

If even a stock-photo purchase doesn't make a self-published author safe . . . yikes.
Photographers might not need a property release to sell a photo in general, but as far as I know, Shutterstock requires property releases from all their photographers. They also have people who vet the submitted photographs before they're posted, so you should be fine. If I remember correctly, Shutterstock offers indemnification up to $10,000 per picture. They're not going to want to pay that kind of money out any more than they have to, so I would bet they're very careful about making sure they dot their I's and cross their T's.
 
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