Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Michigan

Q: Does someone have the right to use a picture that features my work?

I’m a florist. A photographer took pictures of my work at a wedding. Can the wedding planner use the images on her site (or in social media) without crediting me?

3 Lawyer Answers
David Aldrich
David Aldrich
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Shelton, CT

A: This is a difficult one. It would be tough to establish you have copyright protection in the floral arrangement itself. Theoretically, you could, but temporary articles of nature like this are always tough. You’d face several hurdles: it needs to have a threshold level of creativity (i.e., your selection and arrangement), which is a tough bar for something like flowers. It also needs to be “fixed in a tangible medium of expression,” which is questionable for flowers since they die and the work is therefore temporary.

In the future, you can much better protect yourself by taking your own photos of your floral arrangements, and obtaining a copyright registration for those (you would want to do this before others take their own pictures), and you would then have copyright protection for such photos.

Marcos Garciaacosta agrees with this answer

Marcos Garciaacosta
Marcos Garciaacosta
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Mesa, AZ

A: Agree with David.

Further, if the arrangements were photographed at the wedding site, and you were paid for the service, and you did not have an agreement to take the material (flowers) back, the title for the arrangement may have passed to your customer, or the venue.

Consult with an attorney.

James L. Arrasmith
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A: As the creator of the floral arrangements, you likely hold the copyright to those works. The photographer who took the pictures would have a copyright in the photographs themselves, but not in the underlying floral arrangements.

The use of the photographs of your floral arrangements by the wedding planner without crediting you could potentially infringe your copyright in those works, particularly if it gives the impression that the wedding planner was responsible for the designs.

If the photographer has licensed the photos to the wedding planner, then the wedding planner may have the right to use the images, subject to the terms of the license agreement. However, even in this case, the wedding planner may still need to credit you for the underlying floral designs.

If you are concerned about the use of your work, you may want to consult with an intellectual property attorney to discuss your options.

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