BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Renae Newman
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/21/2006

Release question with a twist

I have reviewed past questions on releases but I’m a little fuzzy on how to apply the “laws” to my situation. I have been taking photos on a volunteer basis for about a year at a free, non-profit, petting zoo owned by a city in VA. I am not under contract with the city and they do not pay me for my work. They use my work for cage signs and advertising. I know the photos are copy written to me however, they are of the cities petting zoo and animals. I know I need a release for people but the photos are of animals. I know I need one for private property but this is a public park. Then some of my photos are different from what others can get just by visiting the park because I can go in places the normal public cannot always go. I don’t want to upset the city because I enjoy taking photos and seeing them used to help the animals and to educate children about animals and the environment. The park is getting a new animal from a lady who also wants to help promote the park and me on her website. I’m not sure how that would work because it would be an online portfolio of my work, but at the same time it is advertising the park and the city would want to approve any advertising before hand. So what should I do?
Thank you in advance for your help and thoughts.

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6/1/2007 9:11:15 AM

Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Do you plan to sell the pictures to someone?

Why don't you ask the city? But I can't imagine the city suing somebody for selling pictures of animals in public land.

Anyway, if the animals look like normal animals and it would be impossible to prove that it is from the city, I can't see any reason why you would possibly need a release.

ScrattyPhotography Blog

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6/1/2007 9:31:54 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Privately owned zoos and animal parks will usually tell you that you cannot profit from images taken on their property (or from outside shooting through a fence) without a written release.

...But as far as I know, animals in a "public park" are fair game to photographers.

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6/2/2007 4:02:43 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  This sounds like a law school hypothetical problem. Bob's right, in that public parks (including publicly owned zoos) are ummm...."fair-game" so-to-speak and no releases are required for their inhabitants or buildings or surrounds. Yes, you need a release for employees and other people visiting, etc.

If you don't have a signed written contract with the city people that hired you in the first instance, you need one that specifies your intent to sell images you take for them on a commercial basis or publish them electronically or in print for self-promotional reasons. This serves two purposes:

First, it makes it perfectly clear what you want with your images without any doubt and grants you permission to do it. Second, it puts them on notice of your intent to use the images for those things you mentioned, and others as you see fit while at the same time gives them YOUR written permission to do as you have allowed them to do. Get the picture?
Take it light.

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6/2/2007 6:19:00 PM

Renae Newman
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/21/2006
  Thank you all for being so helpful! I see how a written contract will help, but any ideas as to what the contract should say or where I could get one. Even a contract to use as an example would be very helpful. I might be able to get a military attorney to write up something, but I think I would have to have most of the work done first. They would rather me go to a civilian attorney but the base attorneys are free. I got the model and property releases I use from here …I just don’t remember where on this site I got the link or the web page itself. I would also like to apologize for taking this long to thank everyone for your help. The past 2 weeks have been…hectic. My husband just got back from Baghdad, his parents came to visit, the park got in and lost a screech owl (it was hit by a car before we got it) and then the bobcat shattered his shoulder. (just to name a few things)
Thank you all again very much!

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6/12/2007 7:56:52 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
you may be better off taking a look at attorney Carolyn E. Wright's
web site:
She is a Photographer and Attorney that has written this book that is really a must have!
We can get good advise here, but Grat advise from a True working Attorney here.
I do hope it helps,
Debby Tabb

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6/13/2007 5:43:37 AM

Renae Newman
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/21/2006
  Thanks Debby! I haven’t gone to her site yet, but I am on my way!
Thanks again

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6/14/2007 6:44:17 AM

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