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Author Topic: Stock Photography has a lot of legal rules, what about Fine Art/Landscapes?  (Read 858 times)
trevarthan
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« on: July 23, 2014, 11:49:51 AM »
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In stock photography, logos and trademarks are disallowed, as these are property of someone else. I would think the same rules apply to fine art and landscape photography, but I see people break them from time to time. Is there a good article somewhere on what can and can't be included, or should I just assume the stock rules apply?
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KirbyKrieger
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2014, 12:04:58 PM »
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What rules are you wanting?  I realize you are qualifying "Fine Art" with "Landscape" — a reasonably well-defined sub-category — but "Fine Art" is (legally, afaik) whatever the artist wants it to be.  DuChamp molded the break  Wink ; the walls had been ground to dust decades ago:
(Much better in the original, btw.  This is a poor photo of the actual injection-molded plastic signs.)

Afaik, the "rules" for Stock Photography are set by the buyers.  The same condition applies to Fine Art.
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trevarthan
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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2014, 12:16:45 PM »
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Your references are lost on me. I was born in 1981 with no formal art education. I'm a boring software engineer by trade. I just have a fascination with light, which seems to lend itself to photography.

Anyway, that's precisely what I'm asking. Does anything go? Or can I get in trouble, legally, for selling a photo of something someone else owns?
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2014, 12:29:06 PM »
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You need to be more precise. What logos and trade marks in fine art and landscape photography? Are they prominent or incidental? Selling a photo to whom, for what purpose?
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Slobodan

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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2014, 12:30:37 PM »
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... Afaik, the "rules" for Stock Photography are set by the buyers.  The same condition applies to Fine Art.

The rules are set by law, not buyers.
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Slobodan

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trevarthan
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« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2014, 12:48:19 PM »
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You need to be more precise. What logos and trade marks in fine art and landscape photography? Are they prominent or incidental? Selling a photo to whom, for what purpose?

The purpose would be a wall hanging in a home (or business, I suppose). I don't know the difference between prominent or incidental, but I suppose we could use this photo as an example:

The Sky is Awake ... by Trevarthan, on Flickr

I took this. That's my daughter. The Tennessee Aquarium is in the background, and I know that this photo is fine for stock, because I have a model release signed by myself for my daughter, and the front of the aquarium is blurred.

However, what if I reshot this photo, removing my daughter and bringing everything into sharp focus with a nice sunset sky? I'm pretty sure there is some sort of advertisement on the aquarium in the background. Is that a problem?

Similarly, I know from trying to submit this photo for stock, that fountains are often considered art, despite being public landmarks:
Chattanooga Riverfront Fountains by Trevarthan, on Flickr

Could I get in trouble trying to sell this photo as fine art (assuming I retook it in a way that didn't suck, technically - it's pretty soft and weak as is)?
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KirbyKrieger
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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2014, 04:25:30 PM »
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The rules are set by law, not buyers.

First, just to clarify, by "buyers" I meant the agencies that purchase (or license) images from image-makers.

I am sure there are copyright laws restricting the use of those images.  Are there laws that restrict which images stock photography companies can purchase?

My citations point to appropriations and modifications used in Fine Art.  They are quite pointed: in one, an artist purchased an object, exhibited it, and sold it.  In another, an artist reproduced an object depicting a trademark, exhibited it alongside a similar but "artistically" modified copy, and (afaik) sold it.

The OP asked about selling landscape images he makes as Fine Art.  He/She has altered that in his/her follow up.  My response was to the original post.  The OP now seems more concerned with selling images to Stock agencies.

Your response ... "What?  And for what?" is much more likely to move the discussion forward.

Fwiw, here is what I think is a good short video primer on copyright issues regarding Stock photographs.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2014, 04:58:23 PM »
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The usual disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. And this stuff is not simple (when it comes to lawyers, nothing is simple Wink)

The major watershed is whether it is a commercial (advertisement) use of a photograph or not. The risk of copyright or trademark infringement is much higher for commercial use than for editorial or fine art use. However, even in the area of stock photography for commercial purposes, the risk (that you might be sued) can be classified as high, medium or low. A good primer is on my stock agency's (ImageBrief) blog:

Part I: Copyright Law

Part II: Trademarks

The bottom line is, while in this country (and many others) anyone can take you to court for anything (and thus expose you to legal costs even if you win the case), the reasonable thing to do is to asses the risk.

For instance, the Bean sculpture in the Chicago Millennium park is copyrighted, yet millions of tourists are snapping that picture every day and posting it on social media, etc. While technically it is a copyright infringement, it is highly unlikely that the sculptor is going to take them to court. However, he did take to court larger corporations when they tried to use it commercially.

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Slobodan

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trevarthan
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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2014, 05:09:37 PM »
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The OP asked about selling landscape images he makes as Fine Art.  He/She has altered that in his/her follow up.

I don't see how I did, but it's fine. I see what you're saying. Thanks for the explanation.

The major watershed is whether it is a commercial (advertisement) use of a photograph or not. The risk of copyright or trademark infringement is much higher for commercial use than for editorial or fine art use.

[...]

The bottom line is, while in this country (and many others) anyone can take you to court for anything (and thus expose you to legal costs even if you win the case), the reasonable thing to do is to asses the risk.

I choose to interpret that as, for fine art, anything goes, with trademarks and such having higher risk. However, unless I am wildly successful and/or attempting to use one of these images in a commercial advertisement, the risk is still probably pretty low. Understood, and thank you.
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Robert Roaldi
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« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2014, 07:52:44 AM »
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Years ago, I submitted a street scene to a microstock. They rejected it because of the FORD logo on the front of a parked Taurus, and the car was incidental to the photo. I assumed that they have to be extra careful because they truly don't know where the photos they sell will end up. They asked me to clone the logo out, so I did, after which they accepted the photo. But the FORD Taurus still looked an awful lot like a FORD Taurus to me.

I never asked them what they would do with a city skyline shot. Oftentimes, buildings have corporate logos on them. It kind of annoys me that by renting space on the top of a building, some company can restrict my use of that public visual space without compensating me (or society) for that loss.

There are lots of photos and paintings in museums in which logos are depicted. How could street photography exist otherwise?  So in the main, it's probably ok. I think the problem that microstocks are trying to prevent is someone buying that photo and using in an advertising or some other commercial use. The presence of the logo would then be a problem, I believe.

But I ain't no lawyer either.
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joneil
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« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2014, 08:07:55 AM »
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I have seen landscapes where the photograph went the other way, and had piles of logos in them.  However, most of the time this is only in the case where it is old logos, such as a photograph of a museum like setting, such as a replica general store in a pioneer village for example.   For what ever reason, somebody might be offended by a FORD logo on a new car, but not an old model T.  

So a landscape shot of Woodward  ave in downtown Detroit during one of their annual "dream cruises" where all the older cars cruise up and down "the strip" should not offend anyone, but who knows anymore.   And yes, for the record, I do think the skyline of decaying Detriot makes for a very interesting landscape.  Just look at the various photos of abandoned buildings and factories there.  Stunning and sad all at the same time.

One thing I do suggest for determining "rules" is to visit in person and look at as much art as possible.  All art, all mediums, all ages, from museums to modern art galleries to outdoor art fairs.   Some rules of art are timeless and universal regardless of medium, other "rules" that are newer you can get a good sense for by looking at moder commercial galleries.  At the very least, you can get a sense for what sells, what people are actually buying and like.
Good luck

« Last Edit: August 02, 2014, 08:09:48 AM by joneil » Logged
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