Monday, August 8, 2011
Has Roy Orbison Negatives
Right, you had a question. The short answer is that you can sell copies of your photographs (prints) and you can license the photos for editorial uses such as books and website articles. But you cannot license them for commercial uses such as product endorsements or merchandise unless such rights were conveyed to you by the people signing the releases (unlikely).
The longer answer. There are three legal principles at work: copyright, contracts, and the right of publicity. Unless the photos were done under an employment relationship, copyright grants the photographer (the person who took the pictures) the right to copy and create derivatives of the photos. The right of publicity allows the subject of the photo to control the way their image is used for endorsements and merchandise. Contracts are used to transfer these rights. So, the photographer retains copyright unless a contract transfers that right and the subject retains the right of publicity unless that right is transferred by contract (for example, a release). For that reason, you will obtain the most reliable answer after someone reviews your photo releases to determine what rights were granted to you.