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Thread: Legal (copyright,trademark) issues when creating a portfolio

  1. #1

    Default Legal (copyright,trademark) issues when creating a portfolio

    One of the baby steps which budding product photographers need to take is of course to establish a portfolio.

    Say you want to be a still life photographer, and u start by shooting the Apple Macbooks (with the apple name and logo), Starbucks coffee (the lady gaga logo), Macdonald's burgers (with the Mac design wrapper).

    The intention is not to sell these photos, but rather to show the world what you can deliver. However, the items you shot are clearly trademarked/copyrighted items, and you are using the photos of these trademarked/copyrighted items to showcase your ability, and in a sense hoping to derive commercial benefits (people to engage you for ur services once they see your portfolio). Is this an infringement of any law?

    I know tonnes of people (even in the world) out there doing this, but it may not necessary be right.

    Anyone can advise if it's legal to build a portfolio for showcase using clearly trademarked/copyright items?

  2. #2
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default

    What is the purpose of including the logos?
    Is it the photographer want to fake he shot for big companies? So the clients hire him because he shot for who and who, not because of his skills?
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Legal (copyright,trademark) issues when creating a portfolio

    nono...it's not the intention of the photographer to fake that he shot for big companies. Imagine this student which just graduated from a photography course, and proceed to build his portfolio. When building his portfolio, he shot products of identifiable brands e.g. Mont-blanc pens, tag heur watches, tiffany rings, etc.

    A sample photo:

    From this photo you can see that it's a Mont Blanc box.

    Under no circumstances did the photographer represent that he had shot for these brands in the past.

    The question is simply: Is there any copyright/trademark infringement to use all these photographs (which u can identify the company) as your portfolio, although they are all shot by urself?
    Last edited by devilry; 28th July 2014 at 07:03 PM.

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    Moderator Octarine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal (copyright,trademark) issues when creating a portfolio

    Quote Originally Posted by devilry View Post
    The question is simply: Is there any copyright/trademark infringement to use all these photographs (which u can identify the company) as your portfolio, although they are all shot by urself?
    In the end you need to ask whether the presence of a certain logo really adds to the portfolio impression or not. Shooting a certain pen does not say anything about the photographer, shooting any pen in a skillful way is visible. There are ways to make the logo less obvious. Your sample pictures is just the opposite.
    EOS

  5. #5

    Default Re: Legal (copyright,trademark) issues when creating a portfolio

    My personal not-a-lawyer take : As long as you're not licensing these images for commercial use, or misrepresenting your relationship with the brand/company, it likely falls under fair use and the trademark/copyright owners probably have bigger fish to fry when it comes to pursuing infringements.

    Check out these links:
    http://www.danheller.com/model-relea...ights.html#3.2
    http://www.danheller.com/model-relea...yrights.html#4

    Based on what one can find on stock image sites like istockphoto, it quite apparent that it's fine to license images that feature products with recognisable brands, as long as it's under an editorial license. If it's okay for the legal team at istock/Getty, I guess that's good enough?

    http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/app...ducts-21534111
    http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/mon...200?st=8dded2c
    http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/mon...038?st=8dded2c

    http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/ne...hoto/108307269

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    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal (copyright,trademark) issues when creating a portfolio

    so if the shots is commission work, does it mean photographers have more right to use it as portfolio?

    personally, I do not see any issue, if the photographers didn't sell the photos, or claim he own the designs / logos etc. that shouldn't be a copyright infringement.

    anyway, if you want a very solid legal advice, than please consult a lawyer.
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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    Moderator Octarine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal (copyright,trademark) issues when creating a portfolio

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    so if the shots is commission work, does it mean photographers have more right to use it as portfolio?
    This depends on the contract terms, imho. If the person/company hiring the photographer allows the usage within the PG's portfolio then it's fine. Without this permission the PG has no rights of usage for commissioned work, especially for commercial purposes. Since a portfolio is used for advertising purposes with the aim of business gains it becomes quite a sensitive topic. Best to avoid without clear permission.
    EOS

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