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  1. #1

    releases for buildings

    Does anyone here bother with getting usage/property releases for buildings shot from public locations (I'm not talking interiors or those shot on private property.

    We have never bothered to obtain them either in the US or Europe and have generaly been advised we don't need them for artistic or editorial publication (which is how we use the photogoraphs).

    Most copyright law explicitly excludes such buildings from protection (eg the US, Canada, UK etc). And there is, apparently no solid legal basis for such releases in the above circumstances.

    However, a couple of people have recently claimed we need them?

    I know none of the photogorpahers who are well known for their urban or building photogorpahs (Todd Hiro, Sternnfeld, Tice, Friedlander, james etc) generally ever bother with this.

    I know when I photogorpahed disneys Seaside community, they told me it was private property and I needed permission to photogrpah within it and/or use the photogoraphs (and a very hefty commercial fee...) - their lawyer also claimed the buildings were copyrighted, until we pointed out the section of the US Code which says very much to contrary and actually sanctions the exhibition and publication of photogrpahs of buildigns taken from a public location, at which point they mumbled and said err okay.. However, there are County roads which go through it - and it turned out there was nothing they could do if you restricted yourself to those loactions.

    Anyone have experience to the contrary?

    thanks

  2. #2

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    releases for buildings

    If you are asking because you are afraid someone may sue you in the future you would be best asking an IP attorney rather then a NG of photographers.

  3. #3
    Yes, but why? David R Munson's Avatar
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    releases for buildings

    Here is a fairly standard property release form based on the one in the ASMP Business Handbook.

    Whether or not you actually need one, of course, is always up for contention. Some architects seem hellbent on preventing anyone from photographing their buildings without a fee and a release, others don't seem to care. Intellectual property rights are just weird to deal with. When in doubt, though, get a release. Nobody ever got hurt for having the proper documentation and not needing it later.

  4. #4
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    releases for buildings

    I have photographed architecture all over the country for 26 years now for national and international magazines and books as well as my own fine art photography. If they let you in and understand the intended usage you are fine, but get a release for insurence to cover your butt. Otherwise photographing any private property from public property is ok. I even photographed secure nuclear areas of Los Alamos National Labratories from public streets for a Forbes magazine article on Super Fund sites and got away with it. They didn't like it but they couldn't stop me. If it is visible from from public property it is fair game. That doesn't mean they won't harrass you though. IP does not apply in this case. It is a privacy issue which they wave by making it plainly visible from a public street. If you have to climb a tree or fly over in a plane or take other extreme matters to get a view it is a different matter. Some hispanics here claim intellectual property rights to Mexican food. Tell that to Taco Bell.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 70:
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  5. #5

    releases for buildings

    Kirk,

    that pretty much vies with the legal spiel I've allways got in the past from the attorneys

    "If they let you in and understand the intended usage you are fine, but get a release for insurence to cover your butt." Obviously, when doing that kind of work - do the same.

    Did you get stopped by the Los Alomos private army with the non-GI camo suits, black boots and M16's...? They always look like something out of Mission Impossible. I've done some portraits at the labs and it was always fun.

  6. #6

    releases for buildings

    Here in the UK you are perfectly within your rights to photograph private property from a public right of way, the only exception being 'crown property' (e.g. Military bases, police stations, courts etc).

    Problems arise if you intend to use the image for commercial reasons, especially for advertising. As an 'art' print, however, you do not need to seek the owner's permission. Good manners would suggest that you at least let them know if you plan to sell copies, perhaps offering them a free one?

  7. #7

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    releases for buildings

    There does not seem to be any unified European approach on this respect, but the French Law is extremely restrictive, much more restrictive than the British one which I would like to see applicable in France.
    I would be extremely careful before publishing an image of a isolated French private property on a professional photographic basis.

    Just a few examples valid for France (!!)
    - historical public buildings in daytime are not restricted for commercial use, but in Versailles I would be careful
    - night illuminations like those on the Eiffel Tower are restricted being an artistic property of the artist who proposed the illumination design
    - modern buildings see from a public right of way with a disctinctive architecture are restricted, you should get a permit
    - private property embedded in a village as a general view are not restricted. There should be little if any, limitations to photographs, for example, nice French villages of the South-Western France even if most historical buildings there are private property
    - views taken from an aircraft are extremely regulated for several reasons too complex to explain here.
    - cemeteries are definitely restricted in France.

    Recently there were several papers in the French reference newspaper "Le Monde" with several case studies that were really worrying for professionals or amateurs. The simple non-commercial display on Internet of a restricted photograph of private land can put you into trouble if you do not have a written approval of the owners.

  8. #8
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    releases for buildings

    Mark,

    Yes! at both the Los Alamos and Sandia National Labratories with guns drawn!
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 70:
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  9. #9
    Beverly Hills, California
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    releases for buildings

    Got Kevlar darkcloth?

  10. #10

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    Re: releases for buildings

    The right to photograph private buildings from a public space was litigated, some years back, by the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. They lost in court.
    I don't remember the details, but ASMP should have the facts.

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