BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Carole Loiselle
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/23/2006

Private structure in the Background

Recently, while on vacation, I took a photo of our new truck, however, in the background is a private home. Can I use this photo for anything other than personal use without getting permission from the home owner.

To love this question, log in above
10/18/2006 4:48:45 AM

Raymond H. Kemp
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/2/2004
  As long as the house is not unique in such a way that it can be clearly linked to the owner in a manner that his “Right of Publicity” is violated then yes you could use the photo for anything else. The owner would have to prove that he or she incurred economic loss for using the property in the photograph. For example, if you took the photo of your pickup in Beverly Hills in front of Ozzy Osbourne’s house then used the photo for advertising your custom truck products, Ozzy could sue for violation of his “Right of Publicity”. His house for years has been shown on MTV so the ownership of the house is clearly linked to Ozzy. The fact that you took the photograph in front of Ozzy’s house could be implied that Ozzy uses your products on the truck and with that you are achieving economic gain by using his house in your photograph. You can see how this could wind up for the photographer, more importantly the company using the photograph for their ads.

If you are using the photo say for an article in a magazine then that is considered editorial content to “educate or inform” and with that you are protected under our First Amendment. And copyright violation is not a concern since U.S. Copyright law exempts photography of buildings in public view from copyright protection. . (United States Code - Title 17 - Chapter 1 - Section 120 Scope of exclusive rights in architectural works – (a) Pictorial Representations Permitted. - The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.)

Hope this helps!


To love this comment, log in above
10/18/2006 8:09:15 AM

Carole Loiselle
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/23/2006
  Very helpful information, Ray. Thanks so much.


To love this comment, log in above
10/19/2006 3:26:22 AM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.