I'm employed full time by a UK-based manufacturing company, and one of the primary aspects of my job role is to create images and videos of our products. I shoot all the video, take all the photos and edit and finalize everything myself.

I also have a personal photography website. Is it OK to publish work photos on my personal website (not for resale, just to showcase my skills)? Are they officially owned by my employer, or by myself as the photographer? There's nothing in my contract that dictates anything specific on this.

I know this delves into ethics slightly but I guess I'd like to know my rights, but also the best approach? (I respect my employers and wouldn't like them to be upset at anything I did).

  • 14
    \$\begingroup\$ As this is a legal/contractual issue, you'd be better asking a lawyer rather than some internet strangers. Or you could bypass that entirely & ask the company. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 17:05
  • 18
    \$\begingroup\$ Why not ask your employer? If you don't think they would want you to, does it really matter what the legalities are? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 17:40
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ 1) read your employment contract, and 2) unless it explicitly states that you own the rights to the photos, get a formal written approval from your management that covers specific photos. You may have to explain that this is not to go job-hunting... \$\endgroup\$
    – xenoid
    Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 18:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Whose equipment are you using? If I was using my own equipment at work I would try to work out a deal. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mattman944
    Commented Oct 28, 2020 at 1:29
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @J... I apologise for misinterpreting your response. \$\endgroup\$
    – copper.hat
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 22:28

3 Answers 3


You added probably the most important piece of information in a comment. You are in the UK.

The UK government has a website about this: https://www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview

It quite clearly states:

You usually will not own the intellectual property for something you created as part of your work while you were employed by someone else.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ See also work for hire. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 7:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note the key word usually. The only definitive answer will be in OP's contract, which they have access to and we do not. \$\endgroup\$
    – J...
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 16:04

Simply put, NO; it is not OK for you to use the images.

You own no rights to the images/videos you create as an employee; the employer owns them. And there is nothing in your contract about it because it is settled law in the UK.

The Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988 (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/contents)

11 First ownership of copyright.

(1)The author of a work is the first owner of any copyright in it, subject to the following provisions.

(2)Where a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work [F1, or a film,] is made by an employee in the course of his employment, his employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work subject to any agreement to the contrary.

So you need an agreement with your employer allowing you to use the images/videos (in writing). And there are legitimate reasons why they might not want to release those rights.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Wish I could mark more than one answer as accepted, both are very helpful :) \$\endgroup\$
    – AutoBaker
    Commented Oct 28, 2020 at 8:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @5Diraptor: Note that you don't need to ask for ownership of the photos you create, just permission to put them on your website (with an appropriate copyright notice that lists the company as copyright holder). This should be a much easier ask, and basically free advertising as long as they trust you not to show the company in a negative light. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 2:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ 'there is nothing in your contract about it because it is settled law in the UK'. This statement is a nonsequitur. This is precisely why a contract would have an 'agreement to the contrary'. \$\endgroup\$
    – Strawberry
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 10:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Strawberry or if the work for hire status was more grey, like it could be in the US; then there could be a need for something in the contract to specify any such creations "will be considered to be created as work for hire" or some similar statement. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 18:51

They're owned by your employer, so not without their explicit permission.


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