The Eiffel Tower is the world’s most photographed building, according to a study by Cornell University


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.”

By Andrew Hudson Published: June 27, 2011 Updated: May 17, 2017

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.


Public Viewpoints

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.

Property Release

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


Reply by Crogster

December 31, 2013

Hello just a question, we are having issues with our troublesome neighbour. which has led to friends of them who live three doors down from us (who are friends of our neighbour)taking photo’s of our chimley saying it’s falling down, it’s not falling down they are just interfering. My question is are they allowed to be taking photo’s of my property without my consent, almost using it as a bribe. any info on this would be a great help. It sounds petty i know, but these neighbours are trying to cause as much problems as possible for us and I have had enough of them.

Reply by Andrew Hudson, PhotoSecrets

January 6, 2014


That sounds like a nasty situation.

I’m afraid I don’t know the law in the U.K.

In the U.S., the neighbour (neighbou) has a right to photograph whatever is publicly on view, such as your chimney as viewed from the street.

Good luck!

Reply by Jennifer Arnett - Starloft Photography

September 17, 2012

I am curious how this applies to real estate photography. My contracts are usually between my company and a Realtor. Do I need to have the owners sign my contracts as well?

Reply by Andrew Hudson, PhotoSecrets

October 26, 2012


Hi Jennifer:

Real estate photography is likely a legitimate, fair use so I don’t think this applies to you. I am not a lawyer and this isn’t legal advice.


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