Do You Know Your Rights as a Photographer?

Technology + Gear
by Michelle Schusterman Dec 1, 2011
The rules when it comes to photography are complex enough to intimidate me away from the art.

WHICH IS STUPID, OF COURSE. But seriously – release forms, copyright laws, people up close versus people far away, children, pets, private places, public places…and most countries have varying and surprising rules. (Example: Some architectural features have copyrights in France, even in public spaces. You can’t publish a photo of the Louvre’s glass pyramid without permission.)

And then you run into the language barrier – how do you ask someone’s permission to take a photo when you don’t speak French? (Or Italian, or Japanese, etc?)

Unsurprisingly, there’s an app for all that.

Pietro Zuco’s app Photographers Rights puts most of the information you need on your iPhone. First, the actual laws for the following countries/destinations:

  • USA
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • UK
  • Japan
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • France

Each destination is split into several subcategories, including rules for public and private places, for people, for publication, for celebrities (who are apparently not people in some countries, as they have their own rules), and even rules for appropriate conduct.

The app also provides copyright info, including help with Creative Commons licenses and reproduction/distribution rights.

All of this would be helpful enough for a free app, but Photographers Rights goes further. There’s a Contracts section that includes various types of release forms (adult, minor, property, location) in English, Spanish, Italian, and French, all of which you can email as a PDF for easy printing. And to help you communicate what you’re after, the Questions section has eight questions like “May I take a picture here?” and “May I use a flash?” with audio recordings in French, Japanese, Spanish, Catalan, and Italian.

Photographers Rights is relatively new – more languages and helpful information is coming with future versions. But if you’re a photographer and you’ve got an iPhone, there’s no reason not to download this freebie and learn your rights.

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