I have recently decided to try and sell my photographs as prints in mounts. I have seen on the National Trust website that selling images of their locations is not allowed with out a permit, which is understandable.

Can I sell prints of shots taken from public land which include private land in the shot? Do I need permission for every shot I decided to sell seeing as the majority of the UK is owned by someone?

Any information would be great, very new to this and for obvious reason do not want to get into any trouble.

  • 1
    The National Trust's rules are probably not legally enforceable. Though they might still threaten to sue you, if you were selling photos taken on their property.
    – vclaw
    Aug 13 '17 at 20:35
  • @vclaw If you're standing on their property, their rules almost certainly are legally enforceable - it's private land, so you're allowed to enter only with their permission, and that permission includes agreeing to their T&Cs.
    – Philip Kendall
    Aug 13 '17 at 21:05
  • 1
    @PhilipKendall If you are on their property, they could ask you to leave. But after you have taken the photos, and gone home, you could later decide to sell those photos. There's not much they can do about it.
    – vclaw
    Aug 13 '17 at 21:23

The general position under UK law is that you can take any photos you like if you are on public property - this is how all those long-lens paparazzi are legal. As you note, almost all the UK is owned by someone, but public highways definitely count as public property; other areas may be more complicated. There are only a few gotchas to this:

  • It is illegal to take photos of a few areas like military installations no matter where you're standing.
  • Certain buildings (most famously enforced for a few London landmarks like the London Eye and the Shard) are covered by the copyright in the design of the building, so a photo of the building can infringe the copyright in the building itself. This gets complicated because there is a "freedom of panorama" which allows for panoramas, even if they happen to include a copyrighted building.
  • Some places (again, most famously some London landmarks like Trafalgar Square) have bylaws which prohibit photography for commercial gain, so you can't take a photo while standing in Trafalgar Square and sell it.

Further reading should you want some: Photographers Rights: the ultimate guide from Techradar and The London Skyline - an IP view from Fieldfisher.

  • I would have thought that while photographing the property from a distance and possibly selling limited edition prints was OK, things might be different if the shots were used in a commercial context like advertising or stock. It's best to seek an explicit written release from the owners stating what is and is not allowed.
    – StephenG
    Aug 13 '17 at 18:38
  • 2
    @StephenG Again, if you're on public land, anything goes. Advertising is fine (ignoring issues where you try and misrepresent the land owner - that's a whole different kettle of fish), stock is fine.
    – Philip Kendall
    Aug 13 '17 at 18:40
  • 1
    On the other hand, even if you are in the right someone can sue you and force you to spend large sums of money defending yourself. When in doubt, getting permission if possible is always the best course.
    – Michael C
    Aug 13 '17 at 19:48
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    For buildings, Section 62 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 specifically states that a photograph is not an infringement. It doesn't have to be part of a 'panorama'. legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/section/62
    – vclaw
    Aug 13 '17 at 21:25
  • @vclaw As I understand it (but I'm not a lawyer), the argument being made is that a photo infringes the separate copyright in the architectural plans of the building, which does not have that exemption. This has been enough to scare the big stock agencies off from having some classes of photos of the (e.g.) London Eye, so it's probably got some validity behind it.
    – Philip Kendall
    Aug 14 '17 at 13:26

Having read this http://www.urban75.org/photos/photographers-rights-and-the-law.html, it seems that UK privacy is a fairly vague thing and almost any photography taken from a public place is yours to do with as you please. A UK public right of way (the most common public place) includes a highway and it's pavement or a footpath.

This wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photography_and_the_law compares UK and US law.

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