Property Photos - Who Owns Copyright?

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    Property Photos - Who Owns Copyright?

    I used an agent to let my flat earlier this year but have now decided to do it myself.

    Can I use the images that they originally took of the property in my advert? Are they their copyright or do I own them as I paid for their full service and it's my property?

    Appreciate any advice on this.

    #2
    What does the agreement you signed or the terms & conditions you were given say on the matter? I can't read them from here.

    Having said that I'd personally just go out & take some new ones: 'taint difficult... the editing software (eg GIMP) is free etc etc
    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

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      #3
      That wonderful company with the mini's did the letting agreement and I can't see anything in it relating to copyright of images. However I'm sure they'd find a way to try and claim some £ from me if I used the images!

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        #4
        I think that, unless the contract specifies otherwise, photographs remain copyright of the person who took them, or of his employer if he was acting as an employee.
        If that's correct (IANAL) and your contract is silent, then they own the copyright.

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          #5
          Many thanks - I think you're correct. They took the pictures so they own the copyright.

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            #6
            if the situation arises again, you could add to the contract or make it clear in writing/letter etc that the contract is dependant on the images belonging to you as the owner of the 'subject matter'.

            personally I would just take my own photos. I once used an agent and the photos were 'cr*p' - toilet seat left up, rubbish in the background etc, not staged at all to show the property at its best. I ended up doing my own photos and telling them to remove their photos and use mine on the advert!

            I actually let it myself the day before the ad went on line, by using my own photos and a couple of ads in the corner shops!

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              #7
              Interesting question.

              If you've asked the agent to take photos for use in an advert that you've paid for then I think it could be reasoned the photos belong to you, being part and parcel of the make-up of the advert.

              If you have not paid for the ad and the photos were taken for the agent's own use in marketing and just happened to appear in the advert then the agent I reckon is free to claim ownership as the photographer.

              Generally, as I understand, the photographer retains copyright unless transferred to someone else with that the photographer's agreement, or goes out of copyright after 50 years. (Last year, a publisher of local history books invited me to author a book to include approximately 180 old and new/modern photos of the same scene. Where I used photos belonging to/or taken others, I got their permission, where possible, to use them, but as it happens I didn't use any of their actual photos because I re-photographed all the photos so arguably the copyright of the photos that appear in the book belong to me.

              Whenever I inspect a property, I take loads of photos, inside and out. I do so mainly for my own use (including a reminder of where I was!) but occasionally some pics are used in reports, etc. For reports, etc I add my copyright watermark. I've never had a client tell me the photos belong to them and that I shouldn't have used them or that I should've shown them to the client first for approval. If I were advertising the property for sae or to let then I'd prepare draft particulars for the client's approval beforehand but in such situations clients comment on the wording, rather than the photos; maybe they like my photos?

              It being your property is only of consequence as regards the interior and any parts of the property not open to the public. As I understand, anyone can take a photograph of someone else's property without needing permission and use the photograph for whatever lawful purpose they like. Photos of the inside, etc may only be used for the purpose for which the photographer was given permission.

              As for doing it yourself, it's worth remembering that architectural/property photography including interiors is a skill and art in itself. I appreciate the bog-standard photos typical of estate agents are probably not in the same league but where the agent-photographer knows what they're about, it can make all the difference for prospective occupiers on first impressions of the property.

              As well as for my work, photography is a hobby - I don't profess to understand technicalities, (my skill is composition). To overcome the problem I was experiencing in getting the colour shading, tints and hues right of interiors from memory, I got a colour-meter which enables me to manually set the K number for white-balance and overcome exposure and lighting problems. Also, choice of lens is important: a wide-angle lens is not designed to get as much as possible of the subject in the picture, so much as being able to go right up close and personal.

              Comment


                #8
                But if your criterion (for ownership of photos) is that you paid for the advert, then that also applies when you pay the estate/letting agent a 'tenant find' fee to market your property.

                You're paying for it in both cases.
                'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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                  #9
                  I have a similar question - a lettings agent took photos of my unfurnished property 4 years ago and the tenants have just given notice. I have done some market research and would like to relist the property with a different agent this time around.

                  The initial agent has said that unless they remarket the property, I am not free to use their photos through another agent. The problem is that I am unable to get unfurnished photos until the tenant leaves, and by coincidence scaffolding will be up on the whole building by that time so I will not be able to get great photos at that point either.

                  I have reread the terms of business contract and there is no mention of the photos, only that in case they do not let the property a minimum charge of £300 will be payable to cover their costs, which I presume includes the photos. They did find a tenant though, and that £300 has been paid back dozens of times over in renewal commissions etc.

                  I don't want to leave the agent with a bad taste, but conversely I strongly feel like tens of thousands of pounds later those photos should belong to me and I shouldn't be held over a barrel to re-use the same agent. Any thoughts on how to release these photos in a pleasant way?

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                    #10
                    The general public tends to think they have far more rights to intellectual property than they actually have (one even get complete newspaper articles posted on these forums). The agent own the copyright and hasn't licensed them to you, unless you have a document, from them, to the contrary. The same applies to portrait photographers.

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                      #11
                      It would be interesting to see how an agent would prove that they own the copyright on photos taken inside your property 4 years ago!

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by Kape65 View Post
                        It would be interesting to see how an agent would prove that they own the copyright on photos taken inside your property 4 years ago!
                        If they still have the original files (assuming digital photography), it's not likely to be particularly difficult.

                        They would be able to produce these, and probably also produce files from other properties that were taken with the same camera, while the property owner would be unable to produce original files that look identical.
                        There are a few other things that can be done to help prove copyright of photos as well.

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                          #13
                          I'd take the chance and use them! I can't see the agent suing you for copyright infringement. I would argue that you paid for the photos and they belong to you. Chances are you will still be able to find the images on Zoopla anyway, just direct prospective tenants to that link.

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                            #14
                            Absent any agreement to the contrary, a photograph belongs to the photographer unless the photograph was taken in the course of employment in which case it belongs to the photographer's employer.

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                              #15
                              Take your own exterior photos before scaffolding is erected.
                              Internal photo's, once T has vacated, may not show scaffolding, but best to provide any prospective T with dates, duration of any works already organized.

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