Can I resell photos that I previously sold?

I recently worked as a writer, composing original gardening articles for an online gardening site and featuring my own photos. I discontinued that job because of the contract which basically signed away my rights to the articles; in other words, the articles became the property of the Website. The articles were heavy on the photo side and included some of my best work. It increasingly gnawed at me that I was getting little compensation for a great deal of sweat equity and time that might be better used in taking my photography to the next level. I hope to sell my own work someday. My questions: 1) Do I have fair use rights in giving the Web links to my written articles to potential employers to showcase my on-line writing/photography work? 2) May I use those photos ever again? They are still on my hard drive, without a copyright overlay or anything. (My work as a writer for that gardening Website resulted in a product, the entire article including the photos). That is not the same thing as the photos in and of themselves, but I believe my contract stated that anything I created while under contract became the property of the Website. Be that as it may, I have lived and learned, and I no longer give my work away.

TJ Given on April 18, 2012

This issue is called “work made for hire.” If you were a freelance writer (as opposed to an employee), then the copyright would be yours, unless you signed a written agreement to transfer the copyright to the publisher. It sounds like you signed such an agreement in which case you have to work with the terms of the agreement. As for your two questions: 1) Yes. You are free to provide links to web content; everyone is free to do that. You could probably also show potential employers your work too, since that is probably “fair use”. 2) That would depend upon what you signed. If you specifically signed away the copyright to the photos (or everything you created while under contract) then you would be restricted to “fair use” rights, which is probably private, noncommercial use. The Website would likely object to you trying to sell, republish, or post the work online; but you could probably use them at home or in a private portfolio to show potential employers.

work made for hire

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