I use to work for an event production company and have photos of many of the events I worked on. Can I use these on my website to promote myself as long as I put what my responsibilties were on the photo and what company I was working for? There was nothing in my contract the prohibited me from doing this.
1 Answer from Attorneys
Tread very, very carefully here. There are several layers.
First, were the photos made as a regular part of your employment? If so, the copyrights in the works very probably belong not to you but to your employer.
Second, were you hired as a photographer specifically to photograph the events? If so, look through your contract carefully for the words "work made for hire" or, less perfect but found sometimes, "work for hire." If they exist anywhere in the contract, again the copyrights are very likely not yours.
Third, and this applies universally, is there anyone in the photos who is recognizable? That person or those people knew the photos were being taken for the purposes of the event, but had no expectation that you would go off and use the photos for other purposes. Those people may have rights and you might need permission from them to use their likenesses for your purposes. By "recognizable," I do not mean "famous." I mean that the face can be distinguished and someone who knows the individual would recognize him or her.
Those are the first three concerns that come to my mind. These three are by no means all of the concerns that exist in this situation. However, they should be enough to raise a red flag for you such that you take the contract and the photos to your copyright attorney and ask for his or her written opinion (for which you must pay). Don't use the photos outside of the original reason(s) for which they were taken without that written opinion from your copyright lawyer.
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