So there you are sitting in the Marketing or Communications/PR department and you need an image for your latest project. You’ll probably turn at some point to a stock photography site such as iStock or Corbis and assume they’re all licensed for you, and you more than likely understand most of the usual restrictions. However, there is one that could catch you out: Property Releases…
Whilst you may already be familiar with model releases (and we have a few great stories on those too, which we’ll maybe share in another article), property release could come as a surprise.
Basically put, any image shot on, or of, private property (such as homes, building interiors, and businesses etc) must have a property release duly signed by the owner and obtained by the photographer. This also extends to artworks in public—you will often need the artists authority to use the image for any commercial use.
Cityscapes however (as they are not focussing on one particular property) would not need a release, but any signs or logos would need to be removed.
Interestingly, also property such as identifiable animals (zoo animal), toys, games, watches, tech products and documents (sheet music, maps) also require a property release.
Editorially, you are far more free. Under these conditions you would not normally need a release for a newsworthy article, though blogs are quite a grey area when they are run by a business.
Recently we were asked by a client to put an iconic regional artwork onto the cover of their catalogue. This is precisely the area you’ll need to be very careful. Some older artworks and landmarks that fall into the public domain (Statue of Liberty, Sydney Harbour Bridge for example) often won’t need a release, however, more modern icons (Sydney Opera House—if main focus of shot) will. Some image libraries will have obtained the release for you, other (usually the cheaper sources) won’t have gone to the same efforts.
So, there’s the minefield, hopefully we’ve made things slightly more helpful. Look for the release, and make sure you’re legal (or it could end up costing you more than you anticipated).