Commercial use of photographs—IP issues
Produced in partnership with Jessica Stretch
Commercial use of photographs—IP issues

The following IP practice note Produced in partnership with Jessica Stretch provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Commercial use of photographs—IP issues
  • Photography and copyright law
  • Copyright subsistence
  • Ownership
  • Sourcing photographs—legal issues
  • Commissioned photographs
  • Stock photos
  • Creative Commons licensed images
  • Using images without consent
  • Exceptions—permitted uses of copyright image
  • More...

This Practice Note provides guidance on legal issues arising from the commercial use of photographs. Photographs are central to many commercial activities, therefore businesses must take a careful approach to obtaining and exploiting the relevant rights. This Practice Note covers:

  1. photography and copyright law

  2. sourcing photographs

  3. key issues when negotiating licence agreements

  4. special categories of photographs

This Practice Note is written on the basis that a business directly instructs a professional photographer. In many cases a business will instruct an external agency who, in turn, engages a photographer. The same considerations outlined in this Practice Note will generally apply. See also the government’s Copyright notice: digital images, photographs and the internet.

In addition to the intellectual property issues considered in this Practice Note, photographers and others using or otherwise processing photographs will need to ensure they comply with the following, which is not the focus of this Practice Note:

  1. data protection law, to the extent the photograph comprises personal data; for an introduction to data protection law in the UK, collating, key practical guidance, see: Data protection toolkit

  2. laws relating to the misuse of private information, harassment, defamation, human rights and confidentiality, as relevant in the circumstances, see Practice Notes: Privacy law—misuse of private information and Misuse of private information and related claims

Photography and copyright law

Copyright subsistence

In most cases a photograph will qualify for copyright protection

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