MIND YOUR BUSINESS
Copyright isn't the last word when privacy rights infringed
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Q: I am a photographer who was given permission to take photos at a music club. I've taken a number of pictures of rock stars and other musicians performing there. Do I own the rights to these photographs or do the rights belong to the subjects of my photos? And if I own the rights, can I copyright the pictures and sell them to the public?
-- S.F. shutterbug
A:There are actually two separate issues here -- whether you own a copyright to these photos, and whether you have a right to make money off of them.
Let's start with copyright. As the creator of these photos, you automatically have a copyright even if you haven't registered your work with the U.S. Copyright Office.
So no one is legally allowed to copy or use those photos without your permission.
Now for your ability to make money from photos of, say, Mick Jagger in concert. There you run into restrictions because of state privacy laws, according to Owen Seitel, an intellectual property lawyer with Idell, Berman & Seitel in San Francisco.
California and many other states have laws giving individuals the right to
control the commercial use of their images or names.