Author Topic: Potentially tricky situation - advice please  (Read 357 times)

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Offline sandhun

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Potentially tricky situation - advice please
« on: February 16, 2017, 09:29:04 AM »
Hi folks

I'm a property / real estate photographer in the UK. I take interior and exterior photos of people's houses on behalf of a large independent estate agent (the home owners pay a fee to the estate agent for the photography).

I've recently been approached by a different estate agent who wish to purchase some of the images from my website.

Am I legally allowed to sell images of other people's homes without their consent or would this situation require some form of permission or release form? The estate agent has requested to use the images purely on their website homepage.

Thanks in advance.

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Potentially tricky situation - advice please
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2017, 09:44:34 AM »
Sticky wicket, would that be the right phrase?  I don't know what laws may apply in the UK, but on the side of business etiquette and ethics, it might be worth speaking with your existing client first.  If they perceive you've gone behind their back, they may be angry enough to drop you.  A few extra pounds from the new player may not be worth that loss to you, whether you have the legal rights to do so or not.  There was once a safe driving advert in the US about being cautious and driving defensively, because "You could be right, dead right".  I do mostly advertising photography, and many times what I photograph is proprietary to the company. My reselling it for other uses without written permission would very likely be a deal breaker for future work.  If they took me to court over it, I could probably defend my copyright, but at what other cost?

 There's also the question of "Do you have a contractual agreement, and what does it say?"

Offline sandhun

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Re: Potentially tricky situation - advice please
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2017, 02:14:29 PM »
Hello, there's no contractual agreement in place. However the advice you've given is sound. I think it's best to discuss with my existing client first to get their view on it. Thanks.

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Potentially tricky situation - advice please
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2017, 04:12:08 PM »
Hey, glad you found it helpful.  It's why we exist.

Offline Duck

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Re: Potentially tricky situation - advice please
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2017, 05:16:05 PM »
I, too, am not fully familiar with photography laws in your country but I do know that what is permissible on both sides of the ocean are evolving. Not necessarily in favor of the photographer.

Since you are shooting for an established homeowner's association I would assume that association has retained the proper permissions from the individual home owners to have their property photographed. If that is the case, you are likely bound by the current association's original agreement with the homeowner, even if it's a verbal one between the association and yourself, or, as they say, a 'gentleman's agreement'.

Reselling rights to what the homeowner thinks is a one time deal may open you to lawsuit. Just because you don't have a written agreement doesn't mean there isn't one in place. On top of what Jeff suggests, I would say to err on the cautious side and find out what your rights really are to those images. While you may own the copyright, commercial rights may not be yours to release.

This is a great example of why contracts that specify usage rights is important for you in the future.
My name is Charles Unitas but friends call me Duck

"If you didn't learn something new today, you wasted a day."

Offline Todd Muskopf

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Re: Potentially tricky situation - advice please
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2017, 08:33:19 PM »
Why does the other agent want to purchase the photos?  Did the homeowner switch realtors?  If that's the case, if you sell the photos to the second guy, I would bet that the first realtor will never hire you again.

If this second person is not a subsequent realtor, why does he want the photos?

If you were on private land when you took the photos, then you would need a property release from the owner in order to sell the photos for usage by another realtor (maybe a web site?).

In essence, you'd be using these as stock images which you would be licensing to another client.

You definitely need a property release.

Offline sandhun

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Re: Potentially tricky situation - advice please
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2017, 05:35:57 AM »
@ Todd Muskopf, the second realtor purely wants the images for marketing purposes (i.e. to showcase some stunning interior images on their new website).

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Potentially tricky situation - advice please
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2017, 08:55:38 AM »
Sandhun, the problem with that second realtor's desire is, they want to buy something they had no part in, to make it look to the uninitiated as if they are realtors of the class your images suggest.  Whether they are of that quality or not, it's misleading in the least, and fraudulent in sprit even if not in law.  I don't know if this happens in the UK, but here in the States there's been a rash of so-called wedding photographers who are stealing the photographs of better photographers with wealthy clientele and nice venues, then posting those stolen images on their own websites in order to appear as though they are something they're not.  This second realtor smells of that same unethical behavior, and they are endeavoring to make you complicit.  If it were my business ethics and reputation on the line, I would steer well clear of such garbage to the best of my ability.

I realize from some things you've already said that you may be inclined not to get involved, and wisely so.  Some of this additional comment is for other readers' sakes as well, we're not trying to pile on.

Offline Mike Nykoruk

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Re: Potentially tricky situation - advice please
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2017, 06:46:00 AM »
I totally agree that it's not a good idea, and may indeed be unlawful.  The fact that owners of the homes that you photographed, most likely, are now owned by someone else, could be another factor to consider.  Like Jeff said, "Sticky wicket".  BUT  I sense an opportunity knocking....
Consider approaching the "New Client" with the reasons it would be unethical of you to sell Images of others homes without a commercial property release.  It will impress them with your professionalism.  Then propose that you do a shoot for them on one of the properties they represent, to create the images for them (for a fee of course, maybe a a discount, if necessary) so they will be indeed be on the up and up.  Tehy also would benifit from using your services as a trial basis, that they can see how your pictures can help them SELL MORE!
 Create a new client.

Offline Jenny Gavin-Wear

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Re: Potentially tricky situation - advice please
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2017, 07:52:31 PM »

I would think really hard before even mentioning the new prospect's interest in your images to your existing client.  Even that could upset the apple cart.

The law says they are your images unless you have specifically sold the rights on IP.  Business ethics to me says, the original client paid for you to create the images and selling them to a competitor is not playing the game - let alone a sticky wicket!

Jeff, impressed with your reference to cricket!


Offline Todd Muskopf

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Re: Potentially tricky situation - advice please
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2017, 07:50:36 AM »
@ Todd Muskopf, the second realtor purely wants the images for marketing purposes (i.e. to showcase some stunning interior images on their new website).

In which case you would need a property release from the homeowner.