BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Jennifer L. Ayres

NASCAR owns shots that I take from the stands?

I have my own NASCAR Blog and I post pictures that I take at the events that I attend. I have been contacted by NASCAR that I have to take the pictures off my website (they are not for sale...I make no $ off the website). They told me that they own all pictures that are taken at their events. Is this true? Please help!

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5/23/2006 2:31:39 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  Maybe. Best to contact an attorney who speciallizes in copyrights. You own the copyright to your photos, but NASCAR probably also retains copyrights to the content captured in your images. So your use is limited. If the photos on your blog simply document your attendance and what happened at the event, then I you are allowed fair use for editorial purposes. On the other hand, if you allow downloads of your photos (even if you don't charge for it) then you may be infringing on NASCAR's copyright (ie. giving away a product that they could/should be receiving a royalty for).

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5/24/2006 6:10:40 AM

Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004

Perhaps Mark F. will respond to this one. He knows a great deal about this kind of stuff. I am checking in to see if he does respond and what he has to say on the subject.

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5/24/2006 6:54:35 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  It's like the No Rebroadcast Disclaimer that's announced at the end of every NFL game. The event is acutally property of the league. Or of Nascar in your case. Images, video, pictures are all theirs. Unless you've gotten permission from them. Which is what newspapers, sports magazines, stock agencies like Getty have when they shoot sports events.
The press passes are part of the permission to shoot, permission to use in the paper or magazine.
Look in a sports illustrated at the credit for the pictures in there. You'll see some will have a persons name and who they're with. Such as Joe Smith/Allsport.
Joe shoots for Allsport. Allsport is the stock agency that sells the images to the magazine. But it dosen't happen if whatever sports league it was, dosen't allow Allsport to use the pictures.

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5/24/2006 9:16:00 AM

Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004

I know this is off subject; but, Facial Waxing? LOL

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5/24/2006 9:37:01 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Copyright law can and often IS confusing.
My best guess is that the PICS YOU took are not copyrighted, but the PLACE you took them are!

For instance, I know that Disneyland is a copyrighted location...expecially the Magic castle. So the track you were at is also probably copyrighted.

2) If your photos fall under the heading of "photojournalism" they can't touch you! That is yet just another confusing aspect to Copyright law..(i.e) If I shoot a pic of an airliner crashing into the ground, AND the name of the airline company is easily visible, AND I sell this image to a news agency..I can NOT be sued by "XYZ Airlines." This photo in this context falls under Photojournalistic license. That is my understanding.

You will have to check.
Your mileage may vary. ;)


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5/24/2006 7:19:45 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  You're confusing trademark with copyright. The castle, disney name, mickey mouse, the mouse ears are trademarked symbols of Disney. Look Coke, Coca-Cola, the white wave on a red backgroun, and the shape of a coke bottle are all trademarked by Coca-Cola.
These Nascar photos aren't on the blog for journalistic purposes. It's not the same as taking pictures from the stands, selling to a paper, and then Nascar saying don't run them.
It's not a copyright, it's rights to the images of the event. And the event belongs to Nascar. And Nascar retains all rights to all images. The track isn't copyrighted. The track name can be trade marked. And I'm sure it is. As well as anything that is unique, known to be unique, or that has been used to symbolize the track.
I bet you couldn't use the word Daytona in any manner that looks like the same font as it is written on the wall at the track.

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5/24/2006 8:25:59 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  "I know this is off subject; but, Facial Waxing? LOL"

Signs taken out of context can be funny sometimes.

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5/24/2006 8:28:20 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Hey Greg, is facial waxing kinda like facial waning as in prolific??

Ok Jennifer, here's the scoop. You own the copyright at the instant you fix the images in any tangible, reproducible means of expression. So, unfortunateley, Pete guessed wrong on that one.

On the other hand, Greg's example with the NFL is right on. If you set your tripod up to record images off your TV of the Superbowl Game, you'd have violated the NFL's license agreement, their trademark, copyright and the TV network's copyright as well. Yikes !!!
In other words, merely because an image is within your viewfinder, doesn't mean you can record it and do as you wish with it.

So Jennifer, I think where you're running into a problem is that you're electronically publishing (putting images on your website) and THAT you can't do without written authorization or a release from NASCAR (as the licensor of the event). Even if money doesn't change hands anywhere in the deal, you need their consent OR, depending on how their contract with NASCAR is actually written, the owner of the vehicles you're photographing.

So here's a suggestion: If someone from NASCAR contacted you directly about this, then they're probably high enough up the food chain there that they could give you NASCAR consent to publish the images. And, so long as you're not modifying them or selling them or showing NASCAR or their members in a derogatory manner, you should probably get their consent. If you initially get a "NO", start going up the food chain until you get to someone who says "yes" and is willing to sign off on a generic release.

Now, as for the Magic Kingdom, it's not a matter of copyrighting the property but trademarking and right protecting what's ON the properties.
An architect can copyright the design for a house. Do you suppose Disney has a copyright on their Disneyland buildings? You BETCHA !!!

Journalistic or editorial use has nothing to do with whether you can or can't publish. The mere fact that I record an image as a photojournalist does not grant me or the publications I shoot for, the unbridled discretion or license license to publish it. If there's no release, it still needs to pass legal muster. That's especially so these days as the previous news exception to the model release law has been so eroded by judicial decisions from one state to another (particularly Florida and Mississippi) as to make it nearly non-existent these days. Most editors I work with request that I get a release for nearly everything except a plane crash, and even then, I would need to be careful not to be so intrusive as to violate anyone's right to privacy.

Disney Corporation has a proprietary interest in protecting the use of images taken on their properties from commercial use, or in terms of publisiing in print or electronically, any other use for that matter without their written consent. While that may not seem right, they're entitled. It's THEIR property and they can use it as they wish and profit from it as they would like.

So, yes, your milage may vary but you ought to fill up with a few packs of property and or/ model releases.

What I recommend to those interested enough in this stuff, is to either take a course in Photography and the Law, or the Laws of Mass Communications as as Applied to Photojournalists. Any Northern Cal. Residents interested?? Class....anyone....class...Buhler...

Take it light kids.

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5/24/2006 8:50:26 PM

Jennifer L. Ayres   thanks so much for your advice and for sharing your knowledge. all of the information has been very helpful.

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5/25/2006 4:22:26 AM

Paul Tobeck
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/19/2005
  Nascar, just like any other other multi-billion dollar enterprise, is generally really uptight about usage rights (i.e.-they've got their panties in a knot). As anyone who sells images for a living knows, images of the cars themselves are totally unusable for commercial purposes (except by the team who owns the car and NASCAR themselves) because of all the logos emblazoned on them. The only way to make a buck on these shots is as art prints to a NASCAR fan, for which, as stated earlier, you'd have to have their permission to do so.

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5/25/2006 5:03:03 AM

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