BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
D. C. LeJeune

Permission Required?

I have a beautiful picture of an old barn that I took while traveling in the middle of nowhere through the country. I looked in every direction for a mile or so to find the owner of the barn without success. Must I have permission from the owner of a building before including the picture in a book or selling it for a profit on cards or in a calendar?

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10/26/2008 8:24:21 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  For most commercial purposes, the short answer is "yes". Talk to a lawyer specializing in intellectual property law in the state where the barn is. Do a public records search to find out who owns the land the barn is on. Get a property release.
Take it light.

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10/26/2008 10:46:18 PM

Kathy Radford
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/2/2006
  It's always best to get permission, but, I was under the impression that if you took the photo that was visible from a public street or road, permission was not necessary as long as you didn't actually go onto private property to take the photo. Can someone clarify that for me?

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10/29/2008 3:48:19 AM

Tony Pasma   The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) website has a good bit of detail on this subject that I found rather helpful.

You can find information regarding the property release here:

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10/29/2008 7:24:43 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  You should understand that BP is not a good place for obtaining legal advice since you couldn't rely on what you're told here as a defense at trial. Getting a legal opinion from a lawyer in your jurisdiction that specializes in intellectual property law is the best solution for specific questions.

Generally though, while you're at, drop a dime on their excellent publication "Business Practices Handbook" or browse the other publications there for manuals and sample release forms. Also read up on the "Orphans Act" and potential Congressional changes to copyright laws. And if you think you're qualified for one of the various memberships, PLEASE JOIN !!! We need everyone's support.

Also how you obtained the photograph, i.e., from the street peering into the yard or a front window, doesn't necessarily make it fair game for commercial use or even some types of editorial usage. It depends on how you use the photo, how it was taken, whether it was altered and how it was changed, whether it contains recognizable people, among other things.
Take it light ;>)

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10/29/2008 9:31:44 AM

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