Permission to Use Photographs

Travel Forums Travel Photography Permission to Use Photographs

1. Posted by kkrueger717 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Is it permissible to use photos on the site or are you required to get permission from the owner prior to using? I would like to use some of the scenes in Botswana for my Blog.

Thanks -


2. Posted by fuzzyv12 (Budding Member 11 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

You just need permission ask for it in the comments of the photos.:)

3. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1877 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

In the days of books, if you used photos without permission, at worst you could end up having to pulp the books. Nowadays, if someone complains it takes seconds to remove a photo from your blog, so not really a problem.

If someone does not want their photos reused, they can put a personal "stamp" on their photos.

4. Posted by fiend (Budding Member 8 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Cyberia, that's so wrong it's not even funny. Please don't perpetuate such silly notions.

A photographer owns copyright to their image regardless of whether or not they have watermarked ("stamped") their image. Unless explicitly stated that the photo is available as Creative Commons or otherwise noted as available for free use, it should always be assumed that you must ask permission before using.

Taking something without permission is theft. Just because it's easy to steal, doesn't suddenly make it something other than theft. Taking an image from the internet is like taking a framed photo from an art gallery with no security guards. You could, but you shouldn't.

People put a lot of time and effort into their work, and it's really never appropriate to take without permission.

5. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5701 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

fiend: I agree that Cyberia is completely wrong by recommending to just use the photo without asking, and think it's disgraceful that such notions are commonly held, but you are also wrong for labeling it theft. (I know that the music and movie studios incessantly label it as such, but they are just as wrong.) Theft has the key component of depriving the original owner of the thing which was taken, which in this case does not apply. What it would be would simply be copyright infringement. Copyright law states that the creator of the photo has the right to determine how copies of the photo are used, and by doing what Cyberia recommends, you'd be depriving that owner of that right.

Anyway, Ken, this question is also answered in the FAQ. Each photo on this site belongs to the member who uploaded it, and you must contact those individual members for permission before being allowed to use the photo.

6. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1877 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

As I said, if people don't want their photos copied by others, it is easy to put a stamp (electronic watermark) on it or even a copyright notice.
If it is out there without either then how can you even claim it is an original that you made unless something private?

The old copyright laws goes back to film cameras and every photo was a hard copy only and it was a long process to copy it. Now it's just a right click with the copy indistinguishable from the original.

Of course a professional photographer who makes money on them would take precautions to protect their copyright. But for the rest of us, it is just small minded to say that picture of a public attraction is mine and no one else can use it. This is distinct from a private photo.

Next you'll be saying you have copyrighted your own image and no one must photograph you without paying you first. That ain't funny either.

7. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5701 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Needing to "watermark" an image (or in another way register your copyright of a work you created) has been explicitly removed from copyright law some 20-30 years ago (in 1989 in the USA). Since then, every creator of an original work gets the benefits or copyright by default, purely from the act of creation.

That it's easy to create a copy (and publish it as if it was your own) doesn't mean that it's right. Copyright law specifically grants the exclusive right to display the work publicly to the copyright holder. I object to you calling it smallminded when people want to actually use this right. If you don't, you have the option to explicitly place the photo in the public domain, or to license it with a creative commons license. But I for example do want to use this right; I have put a lot of effort into improving my photography till I've reached a point where I take consistently good photos. I present these photos (primarily) on my own website, in context of the entire trip, with accompanying information, for example on how someone who wants to use it commercially can contact me for licensing terms. If someone would go ahead and publish one of my photos on another website without that context, then I object to that. (I am semi-frequently contacted by students who want to use photos of mine in school projects, which I always approve, but the determination of what and when I want to approve things should be mine.)

Your last paragraph refers to something which is called portrait right in the Netherlands; if you are the main subject of the photo (not if you only accidentally appear in it), and the photo isn't news-worthy, then you have the right to object to its publication. I believe a similar thing also exists in other jurisdictions. This is why professional photographers have release forms which they have people sign.

8. Posted by fiend (Budding Member 8 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Sander, you're correct about it being copyright infringement, but when dealing with digital media that can be easily copied, I still think of it as a form of theft. My definition of theft is taking without permission, and with digital media it's difficult to work within the existing definition of the law. You're absolutely correct in that the letter of the law does not classify it as theft, but this is a strong grey area where a lot of pro photographers side with the music and movie industry, and in part why the Professional Photographers of America supported SOPA and PIPA. Not saying it's correct, just that it's a sticky issue for some.

Regarding watermarking, my copyright information lives in the metadata of every image I load onto the internet. Each file has the following IPTC copyright fields embedded within:

Copyright Status: Copyrighted
Copyright: ©2012 fiend fienderson
Rights Usage Terms: All Rights Reserved
Copyright Info Url:

So you can see that regardless of whether my image has a "stamp" on it, the image is still possible to prove that the image is my intellectual property, and unauthorized usage of said image is illegal. Modern digital cameras leave a lot of markers that point back to the originating device. Because you didn't know where to look does not make you innocent, as ignorance of the law is not a viable defence.

Most photographers in the digital age realize that any photo put online has the potential to be misappropriated by anyone who can right click, or screen cap. When we post photos on public websites, we understand that we have no control over who uses them, but at the end of the day we usually just want to other people to see the images. Often we really just ask that we receive a proper credit for use on a blog or non-profit website, although each photographer prefers to retain different levels of control, as is his or her right.

The 'right of portrait' Sander refers to is applicable in most countries in some form or another. There are exceptions where photographing a person and publishing that image without consent is allowable, but if it can be proven that you're in any way trying to profit from someone's likeness then you're out of luck. This could be as simple as posting a photo on a blog where you serve ads.