Thursday, October 29, 2009

Church Steeples and Copyright

Dear Rich: I took a photograph of a twin steeple church several years ago. The church has since been destroyed by fire and the location is now a retail strip mall. I would like to sell the photo of the church as art to local residents in the form of framed prints, greeting cards, etc. Do I need a property release for a property that doesn't exist anymore? No (and you didn't need a property release in the first place). As the Dear Rich Staff has indicated in previous entries, copyright law permits the copying and reproduction of publicly viewable buildings. Trademark law rarely gets in the way except if the building (or some feature of it) is used as a trademark -- not the case with a church steeple. By the way, there's always hope that your strip mall will return to church steeples.