Q: Can I sell prints of photos of cars that I took while hired by a car dealership? Some could be labeled “artistic.”
I own a small two-person photography / videography business. One of my clients is a car dealership that has the brands Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche. I’ve taken photographs weekly for them for years and am looking to see if I can legally sell prints of these vehicles. I’m afraid I probably cannot since they’re major brands, but I don’t know for sure. Thank you.
A: Interesting question. The situation you describe has copyright and trademark implications. Because the cars have insignias and other marks on them, in addition to their overall look, the trademark owners likely would not like the public to think they authorized you to take the photos. Similarly, while you may own the copyright in the photographs, you should inquire with the dealership as to under what authority were you able to take the photos. Alternatively, if you took the photos at the direction of the dealership, they may be "works made for hire." Best to work with a copyright attorney who is also familiar with advertising to help you sort out to what extent you may be able to sell copies of the photos.
Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.
The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.
Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.