Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Does Charity Need Permission to Use Photos?

Dear Rich: We are planning to put up a free website of a non-profit charity project to benefit victims of a tragedy. We have questions: 1. Do we need to ask permission if we are using pictures of those people hit by the tragedy from the published newspaper? 2. Do we need to ask permission if we add links to our website and these links lead you to the TV and radio network? 3. Do we need to ask permission if we are putting links to You Tube video? No permission needed for questions 2 and 3, but you would need permission from whoever owned the copyright in the newspaper photos (probably the photographer, a news syndicate, or the newspaper, itself).  Without that permission, the copyright owner could claim infringement. As noble as your charitable goals may be, it's unlikely that they will matter much in your defense. (On the other hand, nobody can predict whether the newspaper will sue a charitable organization over a purloined image.) As for the victims portrayed in the photos, in general you need permission from real people when using their image for a commercial purpose such as raising money. However, from a practical POV, we don't imagine this will be an issue for a  charity seeking to help victims of a tragedy.

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