Will I be able to exhibit and sell photos of my performance if I haven’t taken the pictures myself?

The photographer will automatically become the owner of the copyright and moral rights of the photographs (which empower the photographer to prevent anyone reproducing and/or editing the photos and/or merchandising them), unless there is a written commission contract between the performer and the photographer.

The photographer will need to give a specific copyright licence to the performer, supplying specific prints/digital files and allowing specific reproduction and merchandising of them; in exchange for a specific fee paid to the photographer for the shoot, and further fees/profit share of the merchandising.

Also, if there are any other participants in the performance besides you, they will have automatic intellectual property rights that empower them to prevent anyone making an audio and/or visual recording of their performance without their express written consent. These rights therefore require you to negotiate and preferably draft and sign written ‘model release’ contracts with the participants, which included their specific consent for the recording/shoot, and for any specific merchandising purposes you are planning.

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This article is from the Artlaw Archive of Henry Lydiate's columns published in Art Monthly since 1976, and may contain out of date material. The article is for information only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Readers should consult a solicitor for legal advice on specific matters. Artists can get free online legal information from Artquest.