Upload & Sell: Off
| p.2 #16 · LEGAL QUESTION (Yes, I know this is the internet, and that you're probably not a lawyer) |
With extreme trepidation I'm going to put my $0.02 in here.
I don't understand the calls to drop these clients completely. Part of the risk of doing business is the potential for complications, and if you're finding yourself running away at the slightest possibility of a problem, then you're not going to make much money, now are you? There's a reason why one incorporates and sets up the proper legal and financial structures. Every client you work for presents some exposure to liability, sometimes unforeseen.
That said, you are supposed to be a professional. Any time you even give the appearance of being unprofessional or of behaving in a personal capacity, you are unnecessarily increasing your exposure to liability. Allowing emotions to play a part in your professional conduct is incredibly unwise.
Consequently, you need to be apprised of the scope of your legal rights and responsibilities in providing the services that you do, and be sure to operate within it. The matter of photographing the child at all is questionable, even if the paying client is the legal father. If it is allowed (i.e., the mother's consent is not required, or she gives consent for you to photograph the child), then your ownership of the work is automatic--you do not need to bring up notions such as explicit denial of usage rights by the mother. And it is not your responsibility to educate or inform the mother of this fact, even if to secure her consent should it be required. If she doesn't realize she can't have the photos despite consenting to have them taken, that's her own fault for being stupid, since it's obvious she never paid for anything.
The bottom line is that once all necessary consent is given to create the work, it belongs to you. If someone violates the terms of your licensing by sharing the images in an unauthorized manner, then that is something you take up with the transgressor. But that's strictly in the legal realm. In the practical world, few photographers ever go so far as to act against their clients unless the violation is especially egregious, because as always, one must weigh the damages of infringement against the damages to customer relations.
And this last point is presumably why some of the responses have advised not to get involved at all. The law may grant us certain rights, but the exercise thereof may cause us harm in other ways. So we try to avoid putting ourselves in a situation where we might be likely to need to make such a choice.
In the end, however, it goes back to professionalism. This is a business you are running, not some kind of operation to exact social justice. The only real consideration here is whether or not you actually need the legal consent of the mother to photograph the child. Everything else is superfluous. If the photos end up in her hands, so be it. Life isn't ideal. If you get paid, your client is happy, and you don't get in legal trouble, I call that a pretty good deal. If, on top of that, you receive satisfaction and pride from your job, I call that a very good deal.
Life is much too short to let others make their miseries your responsibility. Yes, you could choose to avoid the situation entirely, but that's no way to live, much less run a business. If you maintain a professional, dispassionate, and level-headed outlook, you will not be led astray.