Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Release for Photo of Rock Club Interior

Dear Rich: Someone has offered to license one of my images of the interior of a famous rock club for an album cover. But I don't have a property release for the image. Is an album cover a commercial use that would require a release or am I safe? What if I included licensing terms that says that all liability for lack of releases must be born by the buyer -- will I be safe? Your album-cover use probably won't require a property release unless: (1) the name or other trademarks of the club are visible (for example, the words "The Fillmore," appear above the door) (2) the photo invades the privacy of people portrayed in the picture (e.g, one patron is canoodling another, or it's obvious you need someone's okay), (3) there are copyrighted images within your club interior that are clearly visible or (4) the club has a posted policy (or it's printed on your ticket) regarding the use of cameras within the building. (As for the latter, it's not clear to us whether a venue could halt the use of images taken in violation of a "no cameras" environment. More information on the policy would be needed.)
Liability Shifting. The Dear Rich Staff -- which has seen its share of rock club interiors -- is always in favor of liability shifting devices and it would be great if you can include a provision that the record label or publisher bears the burden for defending any lawsuits that arise from your photo. The trouble is that a savvy buyer will quickly strike such a provision (wouldn't you?) and insist that the photographer guarantee the rights to use the image.