Warning! Did you take that pic you’re about to use to promote your goods or services? Did you hire someone to take the pic? Do you have a written agreement with the photographer? Does that agreement have a “work for hire” provision? Listen, don’t allow your friendly relationship today with the photographer to lead you to believe you can do whatever you want with those great shots from your photo shoot.

In the United States the law is clear; the copyright in a photograph belongs to the author – the photographer. Unless the photographer has granted you an assignment or license in writing, or you commissioned the picture(s) – also in writing (or the photographer is your employee), that picture is not yours to use however you please.

Learn from the experiences of many celebrities such as 4-time NBA Champion and NBA Finals MVP LeBron James (GO BRON! CONGRATS LAKERS!), Jennifer Lopez and Justin Bieber. Posting paparazzo pics to social media, even when the pics are of them, can draw copyright infringement lawsuits from the photographer. Unless certain defenses apply, doing so can indeed result in a finding of copyright infringement.

Interestingly, these recent cases rarely are decided by a court or jury. They settle. As did Justin Bieber’s. He was sued for allegedly reposting an image of himself, taken by someone else, sitting in the back of his car. The case went away for an undisclosed amount.

So, as you’re promoting your goods or services out there, be careful. Instead of relying on your friendship or a verbal agreement, strongly consider putting your arrangement in writing and ensuring the appropriate provisions are included in the contract.

©2020 Albert F. Davis, Esq.


This law update is intended for general information purposes only.  One should not consider the update legal advice or legal opinions relating to any specific facts or circumstances.  An attorney-client relationship is not created by reading this update.

Please feel free to contact A.F. DAVIS LAW for further information.