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I am currently re-designing a website for a large company that makes parts for planes, and want to use some images of the planes that the parts are made for.

I have some great imagery taken by one of our employees who is happy for it to be used, however, what I am unsure about is the plane itself is covered with the aircraft manufacturer's branding.

In using this, am I infringing any copyright? the image was taken in a very public place in the UK, i.e the sky, and the "artist" has given permission.

I'm not going to take anyone's answer as gospel — don't worry! And I'm not going to ask a lawyer — that would cost more than buying another image.

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IANAL: This is out of my head based on impressions I have formed "along the way". Anything that contradicts this may well be correct :-) - I understand that it's potentially questionable but liable to be OK if the aircraft manufacturer is "sensible". If the manufacturer wished to discourage the supplier for commercial of any reasons I understyand that they may have potential for complaint. –  Russell McMahon Jun 13 '12 at 12:20
    
I agree this one is probably subjective based on the corporate relationship.... –  Darkcat Studios Jun 13 '12 at 16:24

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Never take legal advice from some random person on the internet (including me), always contact a lawyer that knows the specific laws in your country.

I believe that in the case you described you need permission, now here's what you can do:

  1. If they will be ok with it and the manufacturer is a smaller company where you can talk directly to someone who can give you that permission and can do it without getting lawyers involved than just ask for permission - but be prepared for the case they say no and you have to get a different picture.

  2. If they will be ok with it and they are a larger company where this will have to be approved by multiple people and/or reviewed by lawyers than you will never get official permission but you can go the "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission" route - but if this backfires and you get into trouble don't blame me (see first paragraph of this answer).

  3. If they tend to sue over every little business dispute or a known to replace suppliers on the first sign of trouble than obviously you shouldn't use the picture without explicit written permission

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First of all, check your supplier contract (or contracts if you're talking multiple customers). The contracts with your customers might already contain language about you being able to use their names and trademarked logos for your own advertising. That assumes, of course, that these pictures have your customer's branding on them, not that of your customer's customers.

Also, you're probably dealing with trademark law here, not copyright law (not all logos are subject to copyright protection (US-specific link, but might get you searching in the right direction for UK laws)), which might imply that it's okay as long as you make it very clear that the pictures aren't endorsements. Your customer might also have trademark/logo guidelines posted on their website, as for example this company has done.

Standard disclaimer, of course: I'm not a lawyer, I'm definitely not your lawyer, you should talk to a real lawyer, none of this is legal advice,

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You are unable to use the branding to promote anything else that that brand wouldn't want to have associated with them/give permission for. Given that the parts are specifically for those vehicles though that may be less of an issue.

The only way you can be sure with such a direct commercial link (it can in no way be argued as artistic use) would be to contact them directly and ask if it is OK. They may well be completely fine with you using it like that, but until you have it in writing you are open to 'attack'. The only other option would be to edit out the branding, which may be easy for a tail but not the whole plane

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As long as you are not shooting any private property (house, lawn, private jets etc) etc I think you are good to go. If it contains any private property, then you will need a property release (like model release)

Just make one thing sure while you use these photo, that you are not using them in such a way so that they don't look like "endorsed by the brand" or something like that.

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Isn't a plane covered in the manufacturer banding private property? and clearly identified as such by all that branding? –  Nir Jun 13 '12 at 15:59
    
+1.... I thought that! BUT its in a public place, its like me taking a photo of someone's back, who is on the phone. I dont need a model release, or a property release for the phone... –  Darkcat Studios Jun 13 '12 at 16:22
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@Darkcat Unless you were using that photograph to promote a product. If the person or that brand of phone did not want any association with that commercial link and took offence to it, then they'd have every right to take action without a release having been signed –  Dreamager Jun 16 '12 at 14:04
    
if you cant clearly tell who it is, in a public place, its a grey area. –  Darkcat Studios Jun 16 '12 at 15:30

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