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Thread started 14 Jun 2011 (Tuesday) 01:39
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How to explain ownership?

 
PeaceFire
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Jun 14, 2011 01:39 |  #1

I've never encountered this one before so I just wanted to get some advice before it goes any further. I shot a wedding earlier this month and a couple of days ago I finished up and posted the images in the client's gallery. I also told them in the same email that I would get their update up on Facebook and my blog on Monday. So Monday afternoon I get everything posted.

A few hours later I get an email from the groom requesting a few images be removed (of him drinking, he didn't want anyone at work to see them). I understand this so I removed them. However, he also said he wasn't sure they were comfortable having any images from their wedding shared in a public place because he can't control them.

And that's where I'm having the issue. My contract clearly states that I maintain ownership of the images, only giving the client a few printing rights (up to 8x10), and that the images can be used by me for promotional use in any way I see fit. That's actually the very first part of my contract! So how do I explain to the client that he doesn't really have control because the images belong to me without burning a bridge?

Normally, I'd just remove everything and go on my merry way. I don't NEED every wedding I shoot featured to look busy. But in this case I cut them a deal because I wanted to use the images from their venue (with them in it) to try to promote myself at that venue more and I believe I may have even mentioned this when they booked me. So I WILL be using these images for promotional purposes. I know legally the ball is in my court since they both signed the contract they clearly never read, which is their problem, not mine. But at the same time I've agreed to open and cheerful communication so I want to word this in a way that will explain to them the situation while still keeping them happy. Any ideas?


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cdifoto
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Jun 14, 2011 03:32 |  #2

Are you in business to make money or are you in business to be adored by everyone on the planet?

If you really need these in your portfolio, explain that he signed over permission to use them when he John Hancocked the contract and why they got the price they got.

In order to do that you need to have a spine. Just leave emotions out of it. Polite but firm.


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cdifoto
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Jun 14, 2011 03:46 |  #3

Oh and in the future, go over every line of your contract with them in person and explain it to them, asking point blank "do you have any questions about this clause?" Don't let them sign it until they affirm their understanding. I go over each one whether they look bored or not.

Making people responsible for reading it on their own is asking for problems later on.


Oh sorry, I forgot to add "I think you should" and "in my opinion." Sprinkle as necessary.


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RDKirk
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Jun 14, 2011 04:17 as a reply to  @ cdifoto's post |  #4

And that's where I'm having the issue. My contract clearly states that I maintain ownership of the images, only giving the client a few printing rights (up to 8x10), and that the images can be used by me for promotional use in any way I see fit. That's actually the very first part of my contract! So how do I explain to the client that he doesn't really have control because the images belong to me without burning a bridge?

That explains your copyright, but that statement does not negate their right to publicity.

Check the language in your contract. If the groom has not given you specific permission (in most states, written permission) to use his image for your promotional (commercial use), then you don't have the right to do so, despite the fact that you own the copyright.

Moreover, even if he did give you written permission, he still maintains the right to sue you for submitting him to "public humiliation and ridicule" depending on what the images actually show. That's one of the reasons in every other area of photography, we get the model's signature right after the pictures are taken so we can argue the model had reasonable knowledge of what she was releasing.

We slide around the model release technicalities for wedding images because it would be a pain in the okole to get model releases from everyone in a wedding or reception, but technically speaking, the law does not give any special license to wedding photography.


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RDKirk
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Jun 14, 2011 04:23 as a reply to  @ RDKirk's post |  #5

A few hours later I get an email from the groom requesting a few images be removed (of him drinking, he didn't want anyone at work to see them). I understand this so I removed them. However, he also said he wasn't sure they were comfortable having any images from their wedding shared in a public place because he can't control them.

BTW, IMO this is a reasonable concern that I honor at all times with my clients as a matter of course. If you display images in a public gallery, not only can the client not control them...you can't either.

I have many clients who have no problem at all with my hardcopy displays in town and they don't mind secured galleries on the Internet, but who don't want their images displayed openly on the Internet. In their minds, it's a matter of control--they trust me well enough and what I'd do with the images, but they don't trust everyone else in the world.

We all know we bear a risk when we post images on the Internet, and we all--for the sake of business--accept that risk. But we should not expect all our clients to bear it...it is, after all, their images. How can we guarantee that some company is not going to take that perfect wedding image and use it in their national campaign? Especially given that most of us don't register the copyright anyway?


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Jun 14, 2011 07:37 |  #6

I don't think she's talking about the embarassing photos. My understanding is that she took those down. I believe this is about the "regular" photos - portraits, romantic formals, first dance, etc.

If OP's contract is anything like mine, they sign over permission for me to use this stuff whether they like it or not. Removal of such images is at my discretion but I don't legally have to do so.


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PeaceFire
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Jun 14, 2011 11:31 as a reply to  @ cdifoto's post |  #7

cdiphoto- Thanks for your advise, it's been very valuable. Usually I go over the contract in detail with the client but this couple booked me just 10 days before their wedding and from out of town so I never did even meet them in person before I arrived for their wedding.

And he just admitted to me that he never did read the contract. What I ended up doing was agreeing to amend my current contract for them. In exchange they are going to select images they would like posted when they receive them and I can then use them. I think that's fair, but I'm still a little upset they never bothered reading the contract.

My contract does include usage of social media, so I feel it was very clear. The big problem is, simply, they didn't read it!


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Jun 14, 2011 11:47 |  #8

Yeah that's exactly why I go over them line by line in person anymore. In this scenario I would have arrived early and gone over it with them the day of.

Also in my contract there's even the line "I have read, understand, and agree to the terms of this contract" right above their signatures just in case.


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Jun 14, 2011 12:45 |  #9

RDKirk wrote in post #12590149 (external link)
That's one of the reasons in every other area of photography, we get the model's signature right after the pictures are taken so we can argue the model had reasonable knowledge of what she was releasing.

Glad OP found an easy resolution!!

This quote stood out and made me cringe!! I understand where your coming from, but getting a release should always be done before a shutter is clicked!! I've personally had a ton of drama trying to get releases after the fact! Never give the model the upper hand specially if your paying them.

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RDKirk
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Jun 14, 2011 13:17 as a reply to  @ proimages's post |  #10

This quote stood out and made me cringe!! I understand where your coming from, but getting a release should always be done before a shutter is clicked!! I've personally had a ton of drama trying to get releases after the fact! Never give the model the upper hand specially if your paying them.

We're not talking about a commercial environment here, though. And I'm not talking about long after the fact.

Getting a mother to sign off on the usual "I can do anything I want with these pictures any way, any how, for all time, throughout the universe" before you even take pictures of her sweet petunia can be a real trick...if you give them the explantion they deserve.


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cdifoto
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Jun 14, 2011 13:26 |  #11

RDKirk wrote in post #12592504 (external link)
We're not talking about a commercial environment here, though. And I'm not talking about long after the fact.

Getting a mother to sign off on the usual "I can do anything I want with these pictures any way, any how, for all time, throughout the universe" before you even take pictures of her sweet petunia can be a real trick...if you give them the explantion they deserve.

It's not that hard. I tell them what I could do legally, then let them know what it's realistically for. I find it easier to get a signed contract with integrated model release than a contract before then a model release after. Besides, I like to get the legal crap out of the way first thing.


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PeaceFire
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Jun 14, 2011 13:47 |  #12

RDKirk wrote in post #12592504 (external link)
We're not talking about a commercial environment here, though. And I'm not talking about long after the fact.

Getting a mother to sign off on the usual "I can do anything I want with these pictures any way, any how, for all time, throughout the universe" before you even take pictures of her sweet petunia can be a real trick...if you give them the explantion they deserve.

Well, at least in my contract, it states that if they do have an issue with images being used online or in print form for promotions that we can put this in writing as part of the contract. I've had a few cases of foster children who's images can't be shared online so obviously we amended that part and did so before the shoot even started (I also took a few that did not include their face that the mothers could share because of this). This is also very standard with my boudoir clients since not all want their bodies shared online like that which is completely understandable!

Of course, I don't cut deals with these clients! I'm a business, I only offer discounts if it equally benefits me.


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PeaceFire
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Jun 14, 2011 13:48 |  #13

cdifoto wrote in post #12591948 (external link)
Also in my contract there's even the line "I have read, understand, and agree to the terms of this contract" right above their signatures just in case.

Yeah, that's in my contract, too. I don't think they even read that part. Just signed on the lines.


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Jun 14, 2011 14:10 |  #14

I think the outcome was fair for both. I've had people tell me ahead of time that they don't want their photos posted on my website or used in advertising. I wouldn't refuse the job because of that, and I don't have a problem not posting them.

Weddings are very different than portraits though. I think that including them in the process of choosing which ones to post was very smart. I think telling them that they signed a contract and have no say is bad advice.


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cdifoto
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Jun 14, 2011 15:14 |  #15

ShotByTom wrote in post #12592815 (external link)
I think telling them that they signed a contract and have no say is bad advice.

Well, that's not a good approach but there's nothing wrong with pointing to the contract and enforcing it. Why bother having one that gives you any rights at all if you're going to just roll over anyway?


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