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Copyright issues when shooting in Galleries or Museums

Permalink16 February 2011 at 10:53 by Rob Singer - Contributor Services Assistant
Posted under Advice and tips

An image of a no pictures sign in a museum - Image BX98G9 © Corbis
© Corbis
It may surprise you to know that there are a number of situations in which you require permission in order to take photographs for stock. This is true for a range of museums, galleries, historic sites and heritage properties. Shooting stock images on these properties often requires permission in order for images to be sold for commercial gain (which includes both editorial and advertising sales). The issue of “permission” is separate to that of property releases, and if not obtained, you may face litigation from property owners. If you’d like to know more, then read on…

Whilst you can photograph buildings and properties from public ground, when entering a museum or gallery, regardless of whether an admission fee is requested or not, you agree to its terms and conditions and this is known as Contract. All museums, galleries, historic sites and heritage properties will have photography policies in place. It is likely these policies will cover both the interiors and exteriors of properties, including all artworks and property exhibited.

By distributing images online with Alamy, if you are shooting these types of property without prior written permission, you will be in breach of Contract. In addition, you are will also be in breach of your Alamy Contributor agreement which states that:

  • 1.4.1 Under this contract you must be the Copyright owner of the Images or have authority from the Copyright owner to enter into the Contract.
  • 4.2 The Copyright Owner is the sole owner free from any third party rights of the entire copyright and all other intellectual property rights throughout the World in the Image except for the Prior Rights (if any).

Whilst many photographers believe they have the right to shoot wherever they want, property owners have the right to assert their legal position and request to have any images in breach of Contract removed from the Alamy website. If we are made aware that images on our site have been taken without permission, we may remove these images from our site at any time.

Our Advice to you:

  1. Gain permission from the property owners/management in writing to distribute images taken within these properties, prior to shooting and then uploading images to Alamy.
  2. If in doubt or where permission has not been sought, do not upload the images to Alamy. Property owners have the legal right to litigate against photographers contravening their policy.
  3. Places to watch out for when shooting on heritage property:
    • National Trust Properties
    • English Heritage Properties
    • Some other landmarks/Trust properties e.g. Somerset House
    • Most Museums worldwide (e.g. V&A, Natural History, British Museum etc)
    • Most Galleries worldwide (e.g. Tate, National Gallery, Saatchi Gallery)

In light of the above, if you have any images on Alamy which you would like to remove, please email Member Services.

*Please note, this is slightly ammended version of a similar blog posted in August 2007*

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