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Thread: Photography at public event

  1. #1
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    Photography at public event

    I spent last Saturday at a mountain bike endurance event taking a few photos. The event was held on public land in a reserve often used for mountain biking/walking, etc. I have taken photos of many competitors of whom my friends were racing amongst. I have posted images of my friends on my FB page among some photos of other racers.
    This afternoon I received an email from the club president stating that it had come to his attention that a number of professional photographers including myself had taken photos of the event without permission of the club and that each photographer would be contacted to ascertain the intended use for the photos and to quote "Please note that ***** Mountain Bikers has not given you permission to utilise these event photos for commercial use".
    At no time was there signage notifying anyone that the public land on which this event was held was closed to the public. There was no signage stating photographs could not be taken. My intended use of the images in naturally to sell as many as I can to interested parties. I was going to supply watermarked images to the club for their webpage free of charge as a one off...maybe not now however.

    Can anyone tell me where I stand in this? I would have thought because it was held in a public place they have no real argument but I'm just not sure...

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by pearson; 25-03-2014 at 5:01pm.

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    In Training MarkChap's Avatar
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    was there any sort of gate, or designated entry point, or was it just open for any and all to enter at their will ??
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    Best to ask a suitable qualified (and experienced in this field) lawyer, all due respect to the members here who may comment from their own experience or knowledge but it is a mine field out there and good legal advice can be referred back to or on to if the need be.
    Especially if you do intend to sell photos.
    Last edited by davsv1; 25-03-2014 at 5:27pm.

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    You could enter the course anywhere along a 1km or so road frontage. There was an entrance to the main parking area but it was unmanned so there was no entry fee for spectators.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Geez, Pearso. I can't offer any advice, and I reckon Davs may have a point. What an all-round fizzle!
    Certainly thought the organisers could pull their act together. Talk about after the horse has bolted!
    Maybe you can at least point out to them the deficiencies of their ways, especially in the light of such an - I surmise -
    unexpected email.
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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    My thoughts ---

    Consult a solicitor to obtain definitive advice on the legality of the subject.

    Stick your middle finger in the air towards the organisers and you will be blacklisted from any and maybe all events in the future.
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    Professional legal advice is the logical solution. Organizers can back off when the mention of lawyers comes into play.

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    Ausphotography Irregular Warbler's Avatar
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    I doubt you'll sell enough photos to be able to afford a lawyer's services or advice. Better to seek an accommodation with the committee. Find out what they really want. Something positive may still come out of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warbler View Post
    I doubt you'll sell enough photos to be able to afford a lawyer's services or advice. Better to seek an accommodation with the committee. Find out what they really want. Something positive may still come out of it.
    Still if as "Professional" photographer with liability insurance etc etc etc correct legal advice would be worth having for future reference as well.
    I do agree it is good to communicate politely with said committee to find out what they want/expect, it's even better if you have legal advice to know if your being bull$hited to too

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    Quote Originally Posted by davsv1 View Post
    Still if as "Professional" photographer with liability insurance etc etc etc correct legal advice would be worth having for future reference as well.
    I do agree it is good to communicate politely with said committee to find out what they want/expect, it's even better if you have legal advice to know if your being bull$hited to too
    Well, speaking as a professional photographer with public liability insurance etc etc etc, as you put it, I'd still suggest the first port of call would be with the person who contacted him. Do it face to face and find out just what his concerns really are. The rest may be unnecessary.

    There are two motocross clubs here. One I went to last year. It is fenced. There was a gate, no admission, and anyone could simply drive in and park. Within 30 seconds of parking and pulling out my camera, the club president came over and told me the members had a policy of no photographers (meaning no commercial photographers as all the riders were using GoPros on their helmets). After chatting for a while, this then became, "well don't take any photos of the kids" and he told me which plate colours they were so I didn't take them and put them on the web.

    The other club, I attended this year. It is fenced had a gate with no-one on it and anyone could drive in. Whilst standing there with another photographer, the wife of the club's president came over and spoke to us. She indicated that if we wanted access to the track, that we just needed to sign in (an indemnity for their club) and get a vest, and we were in.

    Now the really silly thing is that most of the same people race and are members of both clubs.

    So what's my point?

    Well all clubs are different in their outlook and this might be as simple as an insurance liability issue for them. I'd suggest that even if it's public land, if the club has been granted the right to hold race meetings on that land by the relevant authority, that they are exercising right akin to a tenant. Like a tenant, they can tell you what you can and can't do on the property they control. There are plenty of resources out there to tell you what your rights are as a photographer. The best I've seen is this one:

    http://4020.net/words/photorights.php#pland

    Now, as I was alluding to in my first post but didn't spell it out, is the event likely to be worth getting into a stoush over? So, if you're in the right and they still don't let you photograph, what are you going to do about it? The club does have some influence over its members. Are they going to support you with their custom?

    It comes down to whether the club held tenant's rights over the land for that event. If they did, you're out of luck IMHO.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Oh, and contrary to view I see expressed here all the time, simply putting photos on your website for sale is not commercial use, with some exceptions, according to the reference above.

  11. #11
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    If this is public land, no entry fee, no entry terms and conditions and you need to contact the public authority that owns the land and find out what sort of permission was given to the club, then you could well be in your rights to photograph them and sell them if you wanted to.

    Note that you cannot sell photos of people where you are associating those people with a brand or product. Now this is where you might hit a wall, as sponsors of some of these riders who would no doubt be wearing the brand names, could well come at you. Bike brands, helmet brands, clothing brands etc. Also the people wearing/using those brands may not actually be sponsored by the brand and they could argue that you are commercially aligning them to a brand that they do not want to be aligned to. Yes they are wearing the brand, but they could say they were trying out the helmet and hated it, but your photo makes it look like they support the brand..advertising. And this part of the law is where you could get into trouble.

    If the public space was rented etc by the club, then there are probably conditions applied to that by the public authority (council etc) that owns the land and thus there could well be conditions re access/usage that impact you as well.

    I agree, talk face to face with the person who emailed you, but before you do, find out the facts about who's land it is, what agreements are in place for the usage, are there any entry t&c anywhere, club website etc. Go in armed with information.
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    I think that one thing to take away from this episode is not so much that the Organizers didn't have their act together, but rather it was perhaps you who made a big mistake by not using your friends (who were competing) to introduce you to the organizer (Club President) BEFORE the event.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 27-03-2014 at 7:15am.

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    Rick's response is spot on. You need to find out who owns the land and you can do the search yourself or hire a solicitor. Either way there is a big chunk of money needed. Hopefully, it's less than what you intend to make from sales. Also, a solicitor will advise you that these cases (where events organisers have permission) are far more prevalent now and usually settled out of court in favour of the organiser. The going figure appears to be around $5000 (to cover costs and fees - not damages).
    Worth remembering that there is not much "public" land around our cities any more. It's either privately owned or owned by the crown and in both cases prior permission from the owner/lessor will be needed to enter.
    And a word of advice from someone that's been in the industry for fifty years - remove any material from your website/pages now, before you pull the trigger.
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    Thanks for the advice everyone. So far there has been no further contact from this guy. I haven't been getting too wound up about it as I think the guy may have been coming down from a rather stressful weekend. From sources who know him he is not normally like this. I have however sought advice from my solicitor and information from the local council on who is the owner of the land. As Rick has suggested, gather all the information you can so if push comes to shove you know where you stand. I think I have plenty behind me now. It will just be interesting to see if he approaches me as he said he would. I stand to make very minimal income out of this (probably wouldn't cover my fuel for the trip to the venue) so I think if it gets any more intense I'm going to find it hard to justify the argument.

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