What about photography copyrights if no release is signed?

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What about photography copyrights if no release is signed?

I understand it is common practice for the photographer/artist to require a model’s release, which stipulates his/her rights to use/own/market the photos, any compensation exchanged and any other provisions in reference to copyrights. What if there is no release? Written or oral. What if the semi-professional photos were done by one’s best friend of 6 years “for fun”, “for personal use”, “for training purposes to get used to operating new equipment”? What if no compensation or copyright issues were ever raised, discussed or negotiated other than a friend doing another friend a favor or exchanging favors by switching roles, for me to be the photographer and my friend to be the model? No compensation or copyright issues were ever discussed.Who owns copyrights of photos? In case of an oral agreement and permission between parties to freely use the photos, can either party withdraw the right and demand stop of use?

Asked on July 26, 2013 under Business Law, Virginia

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Well, there is no registered copyright here so the issue becomes one of who gets to the act first. If you are smart, you would copyright all of these photos immediately and place the appropriate symbol on them. If you are relying on some sort of state right to copyright (there isn't any), then your model's rights are somewhat limited but if there is no discussion, then a multiple factor review will be done. First, will there be any photos taken in a public place? If so, she may not have any rights.


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