I have two photos that I took while on vacation, one of the Public Market sign in Seattle and the other is the Sax hotel in Chicago. I have manipulated them in photoshop and am impressed with both photos. Is it legal for me to sell these photos?


To try and answer the question succinctly: yes you can sell the photos, because you have copyright, but they may not be publishable depending on who buys them.


Yes you can sell the photographs to whoever wants to buy them.

The problems are encountered when the images are used commercially in some design material or in an advertisment.If the building design is trademarked, such as the Sydney Opera House the buyer must be aware that it cannot be used commercially.

There is a lot of information on the iStock Photo website about what can be sold.

  • Is that a legal requirement, or iStockphoto avoiding even potential trouble?
    – mattdm
    Dec 21 '11 at 4:10
  • It is a legal requirement. The same would apply if I took a photograph of just a tattoo, without being in any context, the trademark would lie with the tattoo artist (if s/he trademarked it), in the same way taking a photo of a building the Trademark belongs to the architect (as long as they have trademarked it) copyright has different rules and a photograph of something that has been copyrighted is different. If something has been trademarked you cannot use it commercially without permission, and that includes selling a photograph of the trademark. Dec 21 '11 at 8:12
  • iStockphoto suggests that any building which charges admission is off limits. I was under the impression that very few buildings are actually trademarked. Which is true?
    – mattdm
    Dec 21 '11 at 11:21
  • 1
    For that matter, is that actually true of trademarks, if you're not using the image in the category of business in which it is a trademark and would not create customer confusion? Many common consumer goods are trademarked, and we don't generally worry about their appearance in a photograph. Should we worry?
    – mattdm
    Dec 21 '11 at 11:23
  • If the trademarked subject is the sole subject of the photograph, then you should worry, if it is a logo on a t-shirt being worn by a model then no, dont worry,in general images, however if you want to use that image for commercial reasons, a kid wearing a Nike top for example than that image cannot be used. The admission thing isnt really true, as St Pauls Cathedral chanrges admission however the building is copyright free and trademark free, and a photograph of that building can be used and sold. If you search for cathedral on iStock you will find a lots and i'm sure most charge admission. Dec 21 '11 at 11:45

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