The materials offered on and through this website are provided for informational purposes only, and are believed to be accurate, but are not intended to be and should not be considered or relied upon as legal advice regarding any specific topic or matter. Further, the information contained herein does not reflect the legal opinions of Photography Bay or its authors and is not intended to be a solicitation or to render legal advice. If you think you have a legal issue regarding photography or your rights as a photographer, seek the advice of an experienced licensed attorney in the jurisdiction in which you live.
This page is a work in progress. I’m going to try to pin down the relevant laws relating to photography for jurisdictions throughout the United States and post those here on this page. In some cases, as you will see, rather than try to summarize the law or post the language of statutes, I will refer you to an outside source that is relevant to the topic at hand. If you have a suggestion or direction, I’m all ears.
As a general resource of frequent and developing topics, I highly recommend reading Carolyn Wright’s Photo Attorney blog.
Copyright for Photographers – Copyright is often one of the first topics that comes up with regard to photography and the law. Rather the regurgitate what countless others have already written, let me simply post some sources for your consideration and review:
- United States Copyright Office: This should be a no-brainer. There is a wealth of information available through the Copyright Office’s website. It has a intro to copyright page, which includes everything from “What is Copyright?” to the forms you need to apply for your copyright. There’s also a tutorial on how to register a visual arts work (a photo) and, if you’re a real nerd, you can be like me and subscribe to NewsNet to get updates on hearings, deadlines for comments, new and proposed regulations, new publications, and other copyright-related subjects. Use the site, our tax dollars pay for it.
- NatureScapes.net – How to Register the Copyrights for Your Photos: Speaking of Carolyn Wright, this is a great intro/tutorial that, as the title implies, explains how to register the copyrights for your photos.
- ASMP’s Copyright Application Tutorial: The American Society of Media Photographers has an in-depth tutorial for your copyright application (not the table of contents on the right of the page).
Model (and Property) Releases
- A lot of folks get confused when it comes to model releases (e.g., why they’re needed, whether you can register your copyright, etc.). Model releases are a different animal of their own. Specifically, a model release is needed with regard to the subject of the photo’s rights to privacy and commercial use of their image.
- ASMP’s Model Release Tutorial: As above, this is a handy reference for learning the ropes about why a model release is important. If you’re a member of the ASMP, they’ve got sample forms for you to use.
- DP Corner – Sample Releases: Some sample releases. I can’t comment on their quality, but they’re out there.
- Baja.com – Model Release Primer: A handy little primer on model releases and why you need them. It goes a little further into detail as to why you need one in discussing the various torts that you commit if you fail to use one.
Misc. Law Resources
State-by-State Guide to Photography at Polling Places
Get the Photographer’s Rights .PDF Flyer for your photobag.
How to Use Images Online – Short post from Pocket-Lint.
How to Photograph the Police and Not Go to Jail
Please note that this section is a work-in-progress and will remain as such for some time. If you have specific information with regard to particular states, please pass is along to email@example.com. Any suggestions or help is appreciated.
- 13-3019. Surreptitious photographing, videotaping, filming or digitally recording or viewing; exemptions; classification; definitions
A. It is unlawful for any person to knowingly photograph, videotape, film, digitally record or by any other means secretly view, with or without a device, another person without that person’s consent under either of the following circumstances:
1. In a restroom, bathroom, locker room, bedroom or other location where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and the person is urinating, defecating, dressing, undressing, nude or involved in sexual intercourse or sexual contact.
2. In a manner that directly or indirectly captures or allows the viewing of the person’s genitalia, buttock or female breast, whether clothed or unclothed, that is not otherwise visible to the public.
B. It is unlawful to disclose, display, distribute or publish a photograph, videotape, film or digital recording made in violation of subsection A of this section without the consent or knowledge of the person depicted.
C. This section does not apply to:
1. Photographing, videotaping, filming or digitally recording for security purposes if notice of the use of photographing, videotaping, filming or digital recording equipment is clearly posted in the location and the location is one in which the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
2. Photographing, videotaping, filming or digitally recording by correctional officials for security reasons or in connection with the investigation of alleged misconduct of persons on the premises of a jail or prison.
3. Photographing, videotaping, filming or digitally recording by law enforcement officers pursuant to an investigation, which is otherwise lawful.
4. The use of a child monitoring device as defined in section 13-3001.
D. A violation of subsection A or B of this section is a class 5 felony.
E. Notwithstanding subsection D of this section, a violation of subsection A or B of this section that does not involve the use of a device is a class 6 felony, except that a second or subsequent violation of subsection A or B of this section that does not involve the use of a device is a class 5 felony.
F. Notwithstanding subsection D of this section, a violation of subsection B of this section is a class 4 felony if the person depicted is recognizable.
G. For the purposes of this section, “sexual contact” and “sexual intercourse” have the same meanings prescribed in section 13-1401.
- 12-651. Uniform single publication act
A. No person shall have more than one cause of action for damages for libel, slander, invasion of privacy or any other tort founded upon a single publication, exhibition or utterance, such as any one edition of a newspaper, book or magazine, any one presentation to an audience, any one broadcast over radio or television or any one exhibition of a motion picture. Recovery in any action shall include all damages for any such tort suffered by the plaintiff in all jurisdictions.
B. A judgment in any jurisdiction for or against the plaintiff upon the substantive merits of any action for damages founded upon a single publication, exhibition or utterance as described in subsection A shall bar any other action for damages by the same plaintiff against the same defendant founded upon the same publication, exhibition or utterance.
C. This section shall be so interpreted as to effectuate its purpose to make uniform the law of those states or jurisdictions which enact it.
D. This section may be cited as the uniform single publication act.
- 20-445. Defamation
No person shall make, publish, disseminate or circulate, directly or indirectly, or aid, abet or encourage the making, publishing, disseminating or circulating of any oral or written statement or any pamphlet, circular, article, sales material or literature which is false or maliciously critical of or derogatory to the financial condition of an insurer, and which is calculated to injure any person engaged in the business of insurance, or any domestic corporation or group being formed pursuant to this code for the purpose of becoming an insurer. This provision shall not be deemed to restrict the right, lawfully exercised, of newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, and similar public media for news dissemination, objectively to publish and disseminate news.
- Still Photograph and Permits in US and California: A rather comprehensive resource outlining regarding the need for permits in California and elsewhere in the US.
- 18-7-801. Criminal invasion of privacy.
(1) A person who knowingly takes a photograph of another person’s intimate parts, as defined in section 18-3-401(2), without that person’s consent, in a situation where the person photographed has a reasonable expectation of privacy, commits criminal invasion of privacy.
(2) Criminal invasion of privacy is a class 2 misdemeanor.
(3) For the purposes of this section, “photograph” includes a photograph, motion picture, videotape, print, negative, slide, or other mechanically, electronically, digitally, or chemically reproduced visual material.
- 18-3-401(2). “Intimate parts” means the external genitalia or the perineum or the anus or the buttocks or the pubes or the breast of any person.
- CHAPTER 737 – UNFAIR PHOTOGRAPHIC SALES PRACTICES – Sec. 42-116. Prohibited practices.
(a) As used in this section, (1) “industry member” means any person, firm, corporation or organization engaged in the business of taking and selling photographs which are industry products and (2) “industry products” means photographs of human beings, duplicates, enlargements and reductions of photographs and the frames and accessories which are sold in combination with the sale of such photographs, but does not include photographs used primarily in theater exhibitions, television broadcasting, publications, motion pictures or commercial advertising.
(b) In connection with selling, offering for sale, soliciting orders for or distributing industry products, it shall be an unfair trade practice for an industry member to make any representation which is reasonably calculated to deceive purchasers or prospective purchasers (1) concerning the size, quality, kind of finish, workmanship or price of an industry product, (2) concerning the experience or competency of an industry member or his employee in the taking or processing of photographs which are industry products, (3) concerning the equipment and facilities used by an industry member, (4) concerning the nature, type, extent or volume of an industry member’s business, (5) concerning the inclusion of an industry product in an exhibit, (6) concerning guarantees on industry products, (7) by not stipulating the conditions and requirements governing the selection of contest winners and the exact nature and amount of the awards, (8) by using a “free” offer or coupons which refer to “limited dates” and “one per family” or other similar limitations which do not exist, and which do not show whether additional purchases must be made in order to receive the “free” offer or the offer made on the coupon, (9) by exhibiting to prospective customers as samples of work any photographs or pictures which are not in fact representative of pictures produced and sold by the exhibitor of such samples, or by representing, directly or by implication, that a photograph to be made and delivered will be equal in type, quality and workmanship to the samples displayed to the customer, unless the picture delivered is, in fact, equal in quality and workmanship to the sample displayed to the customers, (10) by representing or implying that an industry product may be purchased for a specified price when such is not the fact, or by representing or implying that an industry product is being offered for sale at a reduced price or special price saving when the claimed reduced price or saving is not based on the bona fide usual and customary selling price of the product in effect immediately prior in point of time to such representation, or by otherwise representing the prices or terms of sale of industry products in such manner as to mislead or deceive purchasers or prospective purchasers, (11) by knowingly selling or offering for sale any industry product at a price less than the cost thereof to the seller as a “loss leader” used in inducing, and sold only in combination with, the purchase of other merchandise on which the seller recoups such loss, when this practice has the tendency or effect of misleading or deceiving the purchasing public, (12) (A) by imitating or causing to be imitated, or by directly or indirectly promoting the imitation of, the trademarks, trade names or other exclusively owned symbols or marks of identification of other industry members in a manner having the tendency or effect of misleading or deceiving purchasers, prospective purchasers or the buying public, or (B) by using any trade name, corporate name, trademark or other trade designation which has the tendency or effect of misleading or deceiving purchasers or prospective purchasers as to the character, name, nature or origin of any product of the industry, or of any material used therein, or which is false or misleading in any material respect, or (13) by offering or giving of prizes, premiums or gifts in connection with the sale or offering for sale of industry products, or as an inducement thereto, by means of a game of chance or lottery scheme. It shall also be an unfair practice for an industry member to fail to disclose when an industry product photograph is so shaped and designed that it can be used only in a special frame not generally available but which is purchasable from the photographing industry member. Unfair trade practices shall not be utilized in any industry member’s sales promotional presentations as a statement or mark on an industry product or the wrapping thereof or as an oral representation made by an industry member, his employee or agent.
(c) Any industry member who engages wilfully in or aids, coerces or induces another to engage wilfully in an unfair trade practice, as defined in this section, shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year or be both fined and imprisoned.
(d) If a civil action is brought by any person, firm or corporation which is or is likely to be damaged by such acts, the court may grant an injunction to prevent further violations of this section and may assess damages not to exceed five thousand dollars in lieu of actual damages against such violation, and such award shall not be regarded as a penalty.
- CHAPTER 737a – ARTIST-ART DEALER CONSIGNMENTS – Sec. 42-116k. Definitions. As used in this chapter:
(a) “Artist” means the creator of a work of fine art.
(b) “Art dealer” means a person, partnership, firm, association, limited liability company or corporation other than a public auctioneer who undertakes to sell a work of fine art.
(c) “Consignor” means an artist or any person, partnership, firm, association, limited liability company or corporation who delivers a work of fine art to an art dealer for the purpose of sale, or exhibition and sale, to the public on a commission or fee or other basis of compensation.
(d) “Consignee” means an art dealer who receives and accepts a work of fine art from a consignor for the purpose of sale, or exhibition and sale, to the public on a commission or fee or other basis of compensation.
(e) “Fine art” means (1) a work of visual art such as a painting, sculpture, drawing, mosaic or photograph; (2) a work of calligraphy; (3) a work of graphic art such as etching, lithograph, offset print, silk screen or other work of similar nature; (4) crafts such as crafts in clay, textile, fiber, wood, metal, plastic, glass or similar materials; and (5) a work in mixed media such as a collage or any combination of the foregoing art media.
- CHAPTER 737a – ARTIST-ART DEALER CONSIGNMENTS – Sec. 42-116l. Consignment relationship. Notice. Proceeds of sales held in trust. Contract requirements.
(a) Whenever a consignor delivers or causes to be delivered a work of fine art to a consignee for the purpose of sale, or exhibition and sale, to the public on a commission, fee or other basis of compensation, the delivery to and acceptance thereof by the art dealer is deemed to be “on consignment” and such consignee shall thereafter with respect to the said work of fine art be deemed to be the agent of such consignor.
(b) Whenever a consignor delivers or causes to be delivered a work of fine art to a consignee, such consignor shall give notice to the public by affixing to such work of fine art a sign or tag which states that such work of fine art is being sold subject to a contract of consignment, or such consignor shall post a clear and conspicuous sign in the consignee’s place of business giving notice that some works of fine art are being sold subject to a contract of consignment.
(c) The proceeds of the sale of a work of fine art shall be held in trust by the consignee for the benefit of the consignor. Such proceeds shall be applied first in payment of any amount due to the consignor.
(d) Any provision of a contract or agreement whereby the consignor waives any of the provisions of this section or section 42-116m is void.
- CHAPTER 737a – ARTIST-ART DEALER CONSIGNMENTS – Sec. 42-116m. Contract provisions.
Whenever a consignee accepts a work of fine art for the purpose of sale or exhibition and sale to the public on a commission, fee or other basis of compensation, there shall be a written contract or agreement between the consignor and consignee which shall include but not be limited to the following provisions: (a) That the proceeds of the sale of the work of fine art shall be delivered to the consignor at a schedule agreed upon by the consignor and consignee; (b) that the consignee shall be responsible for the stated value of the work of fine art in the event of the loss of or damage to such work of fine art while it is in the possession of such consignee; (c) that the work of fine art shall only be sold by the consignee for an amount at least equal to the amount agreed upon by the consignor in writing; (d) that the work of fine art may be used or displayed by the consignee or others only with prior written consent of the consignor and only if the artist is acknowledged in such use or display.
- CHAPTER 737c – ART PRESERVATION AND ARTISTS’ RIGHTS – Sec. 42-116s. Definitions. As used in this section and section 42-116t:
(1) “Artist” means the individual who creates a work of fine art.
(2) “Work of fine art” means any drawing; painting; sculpture; mosaic; photograph; work of calligraphy; work of graphic art, including any etching, lithograph, offset print, silkscreen or other work of graphic art; craft work in clay, textile, fiber, metal, plastic or other material; art work in mixed media, including any collage, assemblage or other work combining any of the artistic media named in this definition, or combining any of said media with other media; or a master from which copies of an artistic work can be made, such as a mold or a photographic negative, with a market value of at least two thousand five hundred dollars; provided work of fine art shall not include (A) commissioned work prepared under contract for trade or advertising usage, provided the artist, prior to creating the work, has signed an agreement stating that said work shall be a commissioned work which may be altered without consent; (B) work prepared by an employee within the scope of his employment duties.
(3) “Person” means an individual, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, association or other group, however organized.
- CHAPTER 737c – ART PRESERVATION AND ARTISTS’ RIGHTS – Sec. 42-116t. Alteration of work of fine art prohibited. Rights of artist. Enforcement. Waiver of rights. Statute of limitations re liability.
(a) No person, except an artist who owns and possesses a work of fine art which the artist has created, shall intentionally commit, or authorize the intentional commission of, any physical defacement or alteration of a work of fine art.
(b) The artist shall retain at all times the right to claim authorship.
(c) To effectuate the rights created by section 42-116s and this section, the artist may commence an action to recover or obtain any of the following: (1) Injunctive relief, (2) actual damages, (3) reasonable attorney’s and expert witness fees, and (4) any other relief which the court deems proper.
(d) The rights and duties created under section 42-116s and this section: (1) Shall, with respect to the artist, or if any artist is deceased, his heir, legatee or designated personal representative, exist until the fiftieth anniversary of the death of such artist, (2) shall exist in addition to any other rights and duties which may be applicable on or after October 1, 1988, and (3) except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, may not be waived except by an instrument in writing expressly so providing which is signed by the artist.
(e) If a work of fine art cannot be removed from a building without substantial physical defacement or alteration of such work, the rights and duties created under this section, unless expressly reserved by an instrument in writing signed by the owner of such building executed and witnessed in the same manner provided for deeds in section 47-5 and properly recorded, shall be deemed waived. Such instrument, if properly recorded, shall be binding on subsequent owners of such building.
(f) No action may be maintained to enforce any liability under section 42-116s and this section unless brought within three years of the act complained of or one year after discovery of such act, whichever is longer, except that no action may be brought more than ten years from the date of the act complained of.
(g) The provisions of section 42-116s and this section shall apply to works of art created on or after October 1, 1988.
- CHAPTER 952 – PENAL CODE: OFFENSESSec. – 53a-189a. Voyeurism: Class D felony.
(a) A person is guilty of voyeurism when, (1) with malice, such person knowingly photographs, films, videotapes or otherwise records the image of another person (A) without the knowledge and consent of such other person, (B) while such other person is not in plain view, and (C) under circumstances where such other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, or (2) with intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desire of such person or any other person, such person knowingly photographs, films, videotapes or otherwise records the image of another person (A) without the knowledge and consent of such other person, (B) while such other person is not in plain view, and (C) under circumstances where such other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
(b) Voyeurism is a class D felony.
- CHAPTER 952 – PENAL CODE: OFFENSESSec. – Sec. 53a-189b. Disseminating voyeuristic material: Class D felony.
(a) A person is guilty of disseminating voyeuristic material when such person disseminates a photograph, film, videotape or other recorded image of another person without the consent of such other person and knowing that such photograph, film, videotape or image was taken, made or recorded in violation of section 53a-189a.
(b) Disseminating voyeuristic material is a class D felony.