September 12, 2010
Ok, here’s one for the legal eagles out there.
Let’s say I am going on a flight. A friend asks me if I would take his 35mm camera up with me and take some photos of the flight experience. Upon my return I give the camera back and the friend processes the photos (giving me copies of them). Who actually owns the copyright on those photos?
A strange question I know.
I’m studying copyright (Intellectual Property) as my last unit right now. Perhaps ask me in 3 months. However, I believe the person who takes the pictures owns the copyright but it gets complex after that. Because you took the photos by request, then you give an implied right to the owner of the film that they can at least share some of the rights. Because the owner of the film/digital camera owns the rights to the physical property you can be denied every making copies.
Very tangled as IP normally is.
In the UK, he who owns the camera owns the contents of that camera.
If he lent you his car he would probably let you keep the speeding fine but that is as far as it would go! I had a case recently were the owner of an aeroplane (& airfield) insisted that images were their copyright. I insisted that my camera = my images and they, with the backing that only a government can have, backed down. That you may have done the ‘contract’ for free, does not give you any rights over the images that clearly were taken in good faith on behalf of the camera owner.
Notwithstanding these facts; I am no Advocate/Solicitor. Next time have a contract if financial reward is what you seek; or decline the request.
Not entirely sure that the owner of the camera owns the images of course there are differences in copyright law around the world but there are attempts to bring them all into line in order to offer global protection for intellectual property. The current line of protection is that work creates property. Thus the photographer did the work… Lockean principles at work.
As Chasmq states, contract is emerging as one of the principle methods to protect copyright in particular.
September 12, 2010
A few days ago I emailed my question directly to the US Copyright Office in Washington DC. However, in my email to them I reversed the scenario, asking that if I went on a trip and a friend loaned ME his camera asking ME to take the photos, who would own the copyright. I just received their reply:
You own the copyright to the photographs, since you took the pictures.
If you have additional questions or need further assistance, our contact information is listed below.
U.S. Copyright Office
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101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, DC 20559-6000
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