Are we careful enough?

I remember when I first joined Dreamstime. One of the images I was most proud of was taken at a castle during my vacation in England last summer. I had uploaded it feeling quite smug because there were only a few other images of this particular castle, and mine seemed the brightest and (to me anyway) the most interesting. But I also kept getting this nagging feeling of doubt as to why there were so few images from there, given that it was not exactly an unheard of tourist destination.

And so I went back and did more research, and eventually realized it was actually private property and the owners actually lived there! I also managed to find my admission ticket, and sure enough on the back it said that no commercial photography was allowed without permission. Since it was clear to anyone who had ever been there, that the photo could only have been taken from within the grounds, I immediately disabled my image (which thankfully hadn't sold yet) to prevent any potential copyright issues arising. I tried contacting the email address provided on their website to find out their position on stock images of the property, but never received a response. And so even though I had other images I hoped to upload, I felt it prudent to simply keep them for my own personal enjoyment.

Out of curiosity I periodically do a search and I see that there are a growing number of photos from this castle property available on several microstock sites. None have any indication of having a property release.

Was I was overly cautious...perhaps even to the point of being paranoid...and could have safely sold the images I had taken there? Or are others, in their equal enthusiasm to potentially get sales on a nice shot of a tourist destination, not careful enough?

Photo credits: Roman Milert.

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September 11, 2008


I went through a similar problem and disabled all the offending images. I'm not sure I really had to, as I suspect the law was on my side, but to find that out I would have to hire a lawyer, and even then he would only give me an interpretation of the law -- a judge could think different! Because of this, I avoid uploading images that I'm not 100% sure they're ok.

And yes, I see lots of photos from those same places around stock sites that, probably, don't have a property release. However, I much prefer to sleep well at night, without the fear of being brought to court... Believe me, even if you're right you start losing when you go to court. Besides all the fees involved in your defense, going to court can be a very disruptive experience for you and your family.

Another problem with photos of private property has to do with general ignorance about photography and micro stock. If you ask for permission the most likely answer is a no, even if the law gives you the right to shoot there. Unless they thought about photography before you asked, they just give you the safest answer for them -- they would have to do some research to say yes.

Some places, like that castle, might give you the chance of obtaining a permission, but here comes the ignorance about micro stock. They don't imagine a lone guy with a camera, they think about a team of persons (photographer(s), assistants, models, ...), lighting equipment, power cables on the ground, tripods, etc... That probably means they're going to ask you a big fee for that permission. Good luck trying to explain what is micro stock and that the images would sell for 1$... Not impossible, but for me it's to much of a hassle for a couple of bucks -- if we're lucky.

September 10, 2008


It really depends, ya know. It's like the Chrysler building at Manhattan--If you're taking a pic of New York City, it's ok to have that building in; but, the building can't be the subject.

I dunno about the castle, though. The architect is dead--for much too long for any copyrights to be held. This is funny kind of thing, I guess. If it's the same family living there for the last 2k years then I guess they have that right--but I'm not too sure though.

September 10, 2008


Thanks for all your feedback; it is nice to hear that others would do the same. I deliberately left out the name of the castle because as much as I was sharing my experience from one particular place, it could easily apply to other tourist destinations. I had no idea when I went on that trip that I would ever be selling my photos. Now that I do, my approach will be that if I pay admission, then I'll ask permission.

September 10, 2008


Good point! Which castle was it by the way??

September 10, 2008


I thinks iit's a commno problem!!

September 10, 2008


Interesting perspective on a common problem. I would have done as you did.

September 10, 2008


Tough call, but in the end you did the right thing. That's doesn't make you feel very good when you see others breaking the rules and wishes of others, but it's something nonetheless.

September 09, 2008


What you did, disabling the image, was respectful and courteous once you realized that permission was not granted as stated on your admission ticket. If you have the opportunity to revisit this castle perhaps you could request permission in person -- you never know, perhaps you will get to use your photo after all. In addition it never hurts to have extra property and model release forms in your camera bag.

September 09, 2008


Very interesting point.

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