My photo (an artistic shot of the downtown Los Angeles skyline, which shows part of the property where it was taken) was used without permission. The thief used it to make a website for the property where it was taken, claiming I have no photo release and no rights to it. I had a verbal agreement to take photos by the property owner. Is this legal? This was in a music studio where I was a tenant (although I didn’t have a contract) in Los Angeles, CA.
For entertainment purposes only. For serious legal concerns, consult a lawyer.
Two separate issues seem to be confounded.
Copyright, which you own by virtue of being the one who took the photo, gives you control over what others are allowed to do with the photo.
Model and property releases give you permission to use representations of the subject for specific purposes. Without the release, you don't have permission, but it doesn't mean you don't still have copyright or are not allowed to use the photographs for certain allowed purposes.
Pretty sure have seen lengthy discussions on these topics somewhere. Will link to them when I find them.
As far as verbal contracts (spit and handshake) are concerned, I've been told, informally by a lawyer, that they are binding. Certain conditions, which I don't recall, do need to be met. (Again, consult a lawyer.)