Lay Person's material on US/VT publishing laws : LUSENET : Dirck Halstead : One Thread

I have a web-site called Burlington Vermont area Public Events and Photo Gallery, at, which I have applied for a name change to "Burlington Web Magazine"

The question is: Is there a good lay person's resource for Vermont and U.S. laws regarding the photographing and publishing of people's pictures. I am hearing enough conflicting word of mouth information that I am beginning to wonder if people aren't telling what they would like the law to be.

  1. I have heard you don't need any permission for pictures if it is a group of people or it is an event.
  2. I have heard that you can not take a picture without permission. Doing so is a violation of privacy. Oddly enough the person was talking about a picture I took of him on Church Street at his Bible booth in Burlington Vermont.
  3. I have heard you don't need permission if the picture was taken at a public event
  4. I have heard you can ALWAYS take pictures unless you are invading a person's privacy, but can't publish with permission.
  5. I have heard that you can publish if it is newsworthy, regardless of whether you have their permission.
  6. I have heard that you HAVE to have written permission to publish ANYTHING, ANYWHERE. In the event that it is a group of people, you must have every person sign the release form.
  7. I have heard that the photos published are automatically considered copyright by the photographer.
  8. I have heard you can not copyright a photograph with the written permission of everyone in the photograph.
  9. I have heard anything on the web is free domain, so I give up any copyright, just by putting the photograph on the web.

Oh and here's a cute one:

One of my photographs is being used as someone else' logo, without my permission. When I asked for credit he said there is no issue, I took the photo without his permission, published without his permission, and he doesn't need permission to use it. The logo is at the top of every page of Burlington Street Ministries

-- Clyde Moore (, February 02, 2000


Clyde, there are various versions of guides available from the National Press Photographers Assn, and The Amercian Society of Media Photographers.

As a rule, you may photograph and use photographs of people in a public environment. If the purpose of an "event" is to create public attention, such as a press conference, you may safely photograph and use photos from those events in an editorial sense.

However, none of these photographs may be used for advertising without model releases from the people involved.

Regarding #2: If the person is standing on a public street, making himself availble to the public, he is fair game. If he is on private property, you must ask permission.

Regarding # 4: Essentially, that is true, unless you are living in California which has recently enacted very stringent privacy regulations, which are still being tested in court.

Regarding # 5: Essentially that is true. However, you have to be careful in using photographs for interpretation of an editorial idea. The New York Times was sued several years ago for using a photograph of a man walking down a Manhattan street to illustrate the plight of the unemployed. The man was not unemployed, he sued the Times and he won.

Regarding #6: Only if you are using the photograph for commercial purposes (i.e, advertising)

Regarding #7: Copyright is automatically given to the creator of the image under U.S. copyright rules, unless there is a prior agreement in writing assigning the copyright to a third party as in "work for hire".

#8: The copyright laws does not recogninze any such restraint.

#9: ABSOLUTLY NOT TRUE. No one can reuse any content published on the web, with the exception of home or educational use (such as students doing class papers), unless that right is expressly given on the site. It is common sense. You can buy a video tape of a movie, and play or record it all you want at home, give it to friends, but you cannot turn a copy around and sell it. The FBI will pay you a swift visit.

Regarding your photo, you should tell him to cease and desist using your photograph as part of his logo. It is a clear violation of copyright, and if he persists you can sue.

-- Dirck Halstead (, February 03, 2000.

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