DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. I AM NOT A LAWYER. DO NOT DEPEND ON THIS.
Logos, trademarks, company names, and product names are not acceptable and must be removed from all images uploaded to iStock. This includes logos or company brands accompanied by a property release, as we simply cannot control end use to the degree required in this area.”
You can photograph buildings from public viewpoints. Some buildings may be protected by copyright and trademark law, but neither prevents photography. Indeed, copyright law even includes a specific exception for photographers.
“Any building (with logos removed) as part of a cityscape is acceptable.”
The requirements for a property release isn’t as clear-cut as for a model release, because there is no specific right of privacy that attaches to property, as it does to people. Having said that, there are at least two reasons for obtaining property releases: a) on the theory that a person’s identity might be connected to the property in question (such as where a person’s property is used in a manner that might defame the person as owner); and b) on the basis that to use someone’s property for commercial gain without their consent may amount to an offence called “conversion”. Also, if you go on someone’s property to take a picture of them or their property, it could amount to trespass.
iStock recommends that a Property Release be obtained when the image contains identifiable property wherever possible (this isn’t just for houses, it could apply to pets, cars and other personal property. The more recognizable and unique the property (and the more the owner’s identity might be connected to or determined from the property) the greater the need for a property release.
The Property Release needs to signed by the legal and beneficial owner(s) of the property or their authorized agent. Many of the same formalities apply as for Model Releases.
Your photo should be from somewhere that the public can freely be. So sidewalks, streets, and parks are all great places to stand. Once you go inside a building, and/or have to pay to enter somewhere, then things are different. See trespassing.
Private Homes and Privacy
Buildings are not people and do not have privacy or publicity rights. But if this is a private building, where a person might reasonably expect to have some privacy, then you could be invading that person’s privacy by displaying photos of their building. So get a property release from the owners to state that they are OK with the use of your photo.
When in doubt, get a property release. Similar to a model release, this is written permission from the property owner that they waive any rights they may have with the property. Many microstock agencies provide property releases for your use.
Buildings as Copyright and Trademarks
Just to complicate things, buildings can be protected by copyright and trademark law.Next page: Buildings Copyright and Trademarks