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How to sell photos of a band's live show without release

Gilles Lapointe , Jun 25, 2000; 09:38 p.m.

Hi! I have several exclusive photographs of a music band live show. They were taken at a distance of around 20 feet from the scene and some of them are very good close-up shots(compared to a lot of live photos on their official web site). I've send an e-mail to the band to get some sort of a release but they've refused answering me:

"we are signed to a major label, and we can't operate outside of our deal with them, which includes stipulations that nobody gets to profit from use of our images except us (that is our protection from them, as well as their protection from third parties)".

Is there a way to get around this or this is a lost cause?

By the way...the band is the group MOIST and you can see the photos at: http://members.xoom.com/cvexec98/moisthom.html.

Any suggestions or comments on the photos would be appreciated...thanks!


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Ellis Vener , Jun 25, 2000; 09:44 p.m.

who are you trying to sell to? If you are selling a few individual prints I doubt that the band's management will tryto shut you down. Try making posters and selling hundreds or thousands then you'll definitely run into trouble. If you are selling to magazines, once again I doubt you'll run into trouble. Sell to a bootlegger for a cover and once again you are asking for trouble.

Chris Gillis , Jun 25, 2000; 10:17 p.m.

Well, you don't have a release from each member of the band, so you can't sell them for anything but editorial uses, at least legally and with good professional ethics. This is the way it goes and how it is outlined inthe ASMP Guide to Professional Practices, a book well worth reading. Plus, they answered your question about getting a release, and said no, albeit with two dozen words.

Another critical source to read is Sievert's Concert Photography. It outlines most everything you need to know about live event work.

Dan Smith , Jun 26, 2000; 12:51 a.m.

I tried this once & it didn't take, so here goes again. Tiger Woods attorneys sued a painter for selling lithographs of a painting he did of Woods at the Masters Gold Tournament. They contend Tiger should be able to control the commercial use of his face, etc. The court said 'getouttahere & forgetaboudit', and your mama is dresses you funny too. (well, not the part about how he dresses). But, in a surprise they said the painter could sell the lithos of the painting all he wanted. Woods can appeal & maybe it will be reversed, and maybe not. Might check with an attorney on this one, specifically this case, as if it holds then those in the public eye will lose even more rights to control your sales of images of them. If it holds, you can probably sell the photos all you want.

tim bulger , Jun 26, 2000; 01:14 a.m.

I think you know that you should not be able to profit without the consent of the band, but want someone to to tell you it is okay. well in my opinion it is not okay. I looked at your photos and think that you have a number of nice images, but that does not give you the right to get around copyright protection. I think this is similar to someone taking a DAT recorder into a concert and then trying to sell recordings of the band, it might sound good but...

John H. , Jun 26, 2000; 01:28 a.m.

How do you know when you need a release and when you don't? I mean, if I go to a concert that allows use of cameras and I take a picture of the band, could I get sued for selling them? What about if I'm on the street and take a picture that has some random person in it. Can they track me down and sue me if I sell it? I can partially understand it if photography is NOT permitted.

Ellis Vener , Jun 26, 2000; 01:39 a.m.


It is simple: In the USA you can take photos of people in public places (unless they ask you not to). Turning those images of those peoples likenesses into money is when you need a release, with certain exceptions: editorial or art purposes are generally okay as long as you don't slander or libel or humiliate the person depicted. Commercial purposes are generally definite needs for releases, with the possible exception of images of large crowds. <P> BUT YOU DON'T NEED A RELEASE TO JUST MAKE SOMEONES PHOTOGRAPH!

Chris Gillis , Jun 26, 2000; 01:50 a.m.

To add to Ellis' answer above...

...most venue have resptrictions regarding record, filming, and photos. So, you may not have been allowed to shoot the event without permission. Combine that with the dubious status of selling prints without releases for whatever reason, you are on potentially shakey ground.

In short, if you are going to do this, plan it out before it all happens. Deciding later on that you think money could be made leaves a lot of holes in the best laid plans. With foresight you can begin to understand what is worth in a commercial sense and what is best left to the artistic or personal. Not all photgraphy is meant to be sold, regardless of the subject. But, this is getting off topic...

Ken Munn , Jun 26, 2000; 08:52 a.m.

Strikes me you should be addressing not the band, but its management. If you can say you have some great shots of the band, and can you cut a deal with them to publish them? - you might well get a yes. You'll lose some of your potential earnings, but half a cake is better than none. And who knows what other avenues that might open with concert passes, other bands under their management, etc.

Henry Richardson , Jun 26, 2000; 09:00 a.m.

Ellis makes a very definitive statement above. I wonder does that apply to a public figure also? For example, a photo of Bill Clinton making a speech?

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