Serene Life

by garik

submit your photo


Hall of Fame
View past winners from this year

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Take the 2-minute tour ×
Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have sold a high res photograph to an artist and have subsequently used the same photograph in low res on my Facebook page. The artists is now claiming that I cannot reuse the photograph as he now owns the copyright. Can I resell the high res photograph to other artists and can I use the sold photograph on my webpage? Can I sell the same photograph to other artists?

share|improve this question
8  
What did the contract say when you sold the photograph to the artist? Then, ask your lawyer. –  Philip Kendall Jan 8 at 8:50
1  
As per my answer, you need to work out what you actually sold. –  Philip Kendall Jan 8 at 9:10
2  
Is it a photograph of the artist's work? as that changes things again... –  Darkcat Studios Jan 8 at 9:43
2  
This question in close to impossible to answer. Copyright is a thorny subject and we don't know the jurisdictions of you and the other party. In Europe, for example, it is IMPOSSIBLE to sell copyright, you can only license usages. –  Cornelius Jan 8 at 12:42
2  
That is exactly my point. The question as asked is underdefined by this virtue alone; without context about the included jurisdictions, all answers here are a bit shaky and more guidelines, even ignoring the whole IANAL thing. –  Cornelius Jan 8 at 14:07

3 Answers 3

The question here is "what exactly did you sell"? There are two major possibilities here:

  1. You sold the copyright to the photo. In that case, you gave up all rights to it and you can't now use the photo on Facebook or anywhere else, or sell the photo to other artists. In particular, the buyer could now modify the photograph to his choosing and you'd have no right to stop that happening. Some jurisdictions would allow you to prevent your name being used with the photo in these cases.
  2. You sold a license to the photograph. In this case, you still own the copyright and can do what you like with the photograph.

The edge-case between the two of these is selling an exclusive license - in this case, the buyer wouldn't be able to modify the photo, but you would have prevented yourself from selling the photo to others. Licenses can also be time-limited and/or sublicensable, but neither of those effect your issue here.

I think the moral of this story is "don't rely on a verbal agreement unless you're on really good terms with the person you're doing business with, and probably not even then".

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you Philip. It sheds a bit more light on this controversial issue –  Peter K Jan 8 at 10:06
    
One final question - If I convert the image to black and white, can I still use the image? The agreement was that I sold the copyright to the colour photograph. –  Peter K Jan 8 at 10:13
    
No, the copyright is to the photo itself, not the specific representation; therefore you have no right to convert the photo to black and white. As an aside: please upvote and accept helpful answers. –  Philip Kendall Jan 8 at 10:19
    
There is also a good case for telling them to get lost here... Without documentation or records all they bought was what you gave them, and if that didn't include any documents from or authorised by you saying they had copyright or an exclusive licence then they don't have it. If you speak to a lawyer they'll be likely to tell you that pretty much any court in the world will throw it out on the basis on insufficient evidence, but you'd need a lawyer to tell you that for sure... –  James Snell Jan 8 at 12:34
    
The "no" up there should be an "it depends" as well; depending on what you sold. If you only licensed usage of this specific picture, then you can do it. If you made any promises regarding derived or other works involving the picture, you maybe can't. And even if courts "throw it out", it's expensive to have it tried. I'd try to find an amicable solution in some way or other first. –  Cornelius Jan 8 at 12:45

Check with a lawyer. IANAL but copyrights generally default to whoever created the work and are generally relatively difficult to transfer. It can vary a lot by jurisdiction though, so you should check with a local lawyer, but I would not be at all surprised if your verbal sale did not constitute a sale of the copyright unless it was specifically discussed and even then, without paperwork to back it up, it may not hold depending on jurisdiction. Talk to a lawyer.

If it turns out that you did indeed sell the copyright to the image, then you have no rights at all to the image and may not use it for any purpose unless you reserved a license for yourself during the sale.

share|improve this answer

First of all the copyright is a form of intellectual property and it is possible to sell it. The moral rights of the author instead remains of the author in any case.

You can sell the right of usage in several form and it depends on the kind of agreement you stipulated with the third party.

In general if you "give" (with or without compensation) to a third party without any specific about how to use it, the third party is free to do everything he wants with the limitation that he cannot say that he is the author of the image.

In the same time if you didn't regulate specifically the sell (exclusive or not) you are free also to do what you want with that image (reselling and so on).

Different is the case in which someone borrow you to shot that particular image, in this case you are paid to accomplish the work and the image resulting is the object of this work and the property belongs to whom employed for the work (but in any case you remain the author with the copyright that affirms that you are the author). In this case of course you are not the owner of the image and you cannot resell.

About the possibility of use in your own website is still possible for the Anthology Rights (that means to be used from the author to illustrate his own portfolio) but I'm not sure that it can be used on social network in which is implied the possibility of the reuse of the image.

Of course all the previous statements that are mostly general and stated in the international Berne Convention (1886) should be verified with the specific country legal jurisprudence.

I have sold a high res photograph to an artist and have subsequently used the same photograph in low res on my Facebook page.

The artists is now claiming that I cannot reuse the photograph as he now owns the copyright.

Can I resell the high res photograph to other artists and can I use the sold photograph on my webpage?

Can I sell the same photograph to other artists?

share|improve this answer
    
"[…] (but in any case you remain the author with the copyright that affirms that you are the author). In this case of course you are not the owner of the image and you cannot resell." Is an important point: The copyright can be yours still while still not being permitted to actually use the picture anywhere. (Just to make this even more clear.) –  Cornelius Jan 8 at 12:46
2  
"First of all the copyright is not a property and it is not possible to sell it." This is definitely not true in the UK. To quote from the CDPA 1988: "Copyright is a property right" and from the UK IPO: "Copyright is a form of Intellectual Property, and like any form of property it can be bought, sold [...]". There are moral rights which cannot be sold, but they're a different thing. –  Philip Kendall Jan 8 at 12:51
    
@Philps thank for correction. It was a misleading in translation. –  androxstudio Jan 8 at 13:10
    
No worries. Your English is better than my Italian :-) –  Philip Kendall Jan 8 at 13:12

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.