Yearbook Photo Release Issues

22 01 2009

Dear Rich, I have a question. A very good friend of mine had senior pictures taken of her daughter (we’ll call her “D”) with a professional photographer. He took some pictures of D that are not tasteful and do not portray D in a light that she wants on public display. My friend has expressed this to the photographer multiple times. The photographer bought a yearbook advertisement and it had one of the unflattering pictures in the ad. My friend and her family are upset and concerned that the photographer will use these pictures in other forms of advertising such as newspapers or in a mall display. Do they have any legal recourse if the photographer refuses to honor their wishes? I’m so glad you asked. The short answer to your question is “Possibly, but it depends on the paperwork.”

Under copyright law, the photographer controls the right to reproduce the image unless a contract was made that assigned those rights to D (or her parents). However,


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