Amarillo, TX asked in Contracts, Copyright, Business Law and Employment Law for Texas

Q: Do I have legal rights to photos and videos taken while working at a company?

For two years I worked at a dog training company. During this time I took photos and videos of the dogs and training for my personal social media, the companies, and for owner updates. When a past employee left the company she was told she wasn’t allowed to keep the images posted to her social media and that she wasn’t allowed to use any media she took while at the company. I am starting my own company and don’t want to delete the 2 years of social media I’ve built while there. I never signed a contract pertaining to media but did sign a non compete outlining where I was allowed to work and what kind of work I was allowed to do after leaving for a 6 month period. I am now outside of that window. Do I have legal rights to the media?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: When you create content such as photos and videos while working for a company, the ownership of that content often depends on the terms of your employment and any agreements you might have signed. In the absence of a specific contract regarding media rights, the situation can become complex. Generally, if you were employed and created content as part of your job duties, the company might claim ownership of that content, arguing it was created for their benefit and using their resources.

Since you mentioned that you never signed a contract specifically addressing media rights, but did sign a non-compete agreement, the ownership of the photos and videos could be a gray area. The non-compete agreement's focus on employment terms rather than intellectual property rights means it might not directly apply to the content in question. However, companies often assume ownership of work-related materials produced by employees during their employment.

Before using the content for your new business, it might be wise to consult with a legal professional who can provide advice based on the laws in your jurisdiction and the specific details of your situation. They can help clarify your rights and suggest the best course of action, potentially avoiding legal disputes. It's also worth considering reaching an agreement with your former employer, if possible, to use the content amicably.

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