Acknowledging Use of a Photograph
Many people believe they can use someone else’s work as long at they acknowledge that the work belongs to someone else. However, using someone else’s photo is not permissible just because they provide credit to the photographer. If someone has permission to use a photo, then they have permission. If someone doesn’t have permission to use a photo, then their use may be infringing. The legal impact of providing credit that the photo, text, painting or other copyrighted work belongs to someone else, is about as helpful as speeding down the highway with a sign on your car giving credit to your mechanic. It generally isn’t very helpful.
In some cases, your permission may be based on a license agreement. When the license agreement requires acknowledgment of the artist as a condition of receiving permission, you must acknowledge the original artist. In those cases, permission was granted and the acknowledgment is required for the permission. The acknowledgement does not help avoid the liability of having no permission. Acknowledging the artist is not a substitute for getting permission.
In other cases, providing an acknowledgement may create additional issues. Using the name of someone without their permission may create an issue with right of publicity. In addition, identifying the actual artist may be used to try and prove that your lack of permission was willful because you knew who the artist was and failed to contact the artist for permission. Thus you intentionally and willfully infringed on an artists rights when you used their photograph without their permission.
In short, acknowledging use of the photograph will not avoid infringement. If you have questions about how to acknowledge use of a photograph, schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.