I am an independent photographer and photograph cars for a dealership. I am paid per car. I upload the photos to a system that sends them out to the dealership website, cars.com, auto trader, etc. Even though they paid me to take the photos do I not retain ownership of them? And if the relationship goes south can I ask that my images be removed?
1 Answer from Attorneys
For the answer to your question (and to know whether you or the dealership that hired you own the copyrights in the photos) look to the definition of "work mad for hire" in the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101. In relevant part:
"A “work made for hire” is—
(1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or
(2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. For the purpose of the foregoing sentence, a “supplementary work” is a work prepared for publication as a secondary adjunct to a work by another author for the purpose of introducing, concluding, illustrating, explaining, revising, commenting upon, or assisting in the use of the other work, such as forewords, afterwords, pictorial illustrations, maps, charts, tables, editorial notes, musical arrangements, answer material for tests, bibliographies, appendixes, and indexes, and an “instructional text” is a literary, pictorial, or graphic work prepared for publication and with the purpose of use in systematic instructional activities."
Here is a link: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#101
So you need to look at paragraph 2. In particular, "if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire."