Using your own photographs on your website

21 Nov 2007
Alasdair Taylor

When you take a photograph, you own the rights in it, don’t you?

Yes. And no.

The person who takes a photograph will usually be the first owner of the copyright in the photograph (unless that person is an employee acting in the course of his or her employment). However, there are other rights to consider.

For instance, under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, where a person commissions a photo for private and domestic purposes, that person has a right not to have the work shown in public (subject to certain exceptions).

And if you take a photograph of another copyright work (such as a painting in a gallery or a corporate logo) the publication of your photo on your website could infringe the copyright in that work.

It will not be an infringement if the inclusion of the underlying copyright work is merely incidental.

In addition, there is a special exception which means that photographs of buildings, and photographs of sculptures and models for buildings and works of artistic craftsmanship which are on permanent public display, will not infringe the copyright in the underlying work.

This is one area where a little legal research usually pays off.

However, if you are in any doubt and there is any risk of a complaint, you should seek professional advice.

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