UK Photographers Rights Guide v2

UK Photographers Rights Guide v2

May 14, 2009 · 1,346 comments

in UK Photographers Rights

It’s been over four years since we published version one of the UK photographers rights guide.  We’re now very happy to be able to publish version 2 of the guide.

This is intended to provide a short UK guide to the main legal restrictions on the right to take photographs and the right to publish photographs that have been taken.

The guide was written by Linda Macpherson LL.B, Dip. L.P., LL.M  is a freelance legal consultant specialising in Media Law and Intellectual Property Law. She is also a part-time law lecturer and has presented seminars on law for photographers.

The guide is a 2 page PDF, it will print out front and back of an A4 page allowing you to make leaflets to hand out. The guide is intended as an overview of the current legal situation in the UK for photographers, it is not a definitive bible of UK law.

Please do not deep link (direct link) to the PDF or rehost the guide on your website.

If you find the guide useful please link to either or or leave us a comment. (Comments from the old V1 guide have been kept as there is a lot of great discussion in there).

By downloading this guide you accept the fact that neither Linda Macpherson or Simon Moran accept any responsibility at all for any omissions or errors whatsoever. There is a full disclaimer in the guide, this is just a before you download it warning ! Also Neither Linda Macpherson or myself accept any responsibility for any replies given to comments left. If you require full legal advice please consult a lawyer.

FREE Download – UK Photographers Rights v2

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This guide was created for Acrobat 5 and above. If you have a problem opening the PDF, please update your copy of Acrobat Reader (it’s free to do so).

USA photographers rights guide
Australian photographers rights

{ 1243 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela Lawie September 29, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Hi Linda,
We have a wedding photography query!
We have just uploaded a recent wedding shoot to our site for our clients in an open portfolio, but today was asked by a guest whom attended the wedding, via email, to remove two photo’s from the portfolio which had her children in, claiming we were using the images as advertising and that we have not been given consent!
We have removed the photo’s as requested as obviously we don’t wish to upset or offended anyone, and have since made the portfolio private, which was against the couples wishes, but felt it necessary for both our protection and the couples privacy.
But we’d like to know where we stand in terms of the law, as the bride & groom had requested informal photographs to be taken at their wedding reception, all the guests had been informed that there would be a professional photographer present at the wedding and no one approached us during the wedding asking us not to take photo’s.
What concern’s me is, can any guest, at a later date, complain and ask us to remove photos etc… at anytime? And is this kind of thing common with wedding photography as we haven’t come across this problem before.
Any advice please would be greatly appreciated.
Kind regards,


Linda Macpherson October 11, 2012 at 4:29 am

Hi Angela,
I don’t think this kind of complaint is particularly common, but I have come across it before, and a general awareness, gleaned from the media, of privacy rights and data data protection rights have made people more likely to complain. It’s something of an awkward one because it isn’t an issue that the courts have yet been called to make a decision on.

Although it was an open portfolio, I assume it was to permit the purchase of prints by guests, relatives, etc, and not to advertise or promote your business? There are issues concerning the use of identifiable individuals in advertising/marketing without their written consent. This does not just apply to children!
There are also data protection issues surrounding photographs of identifiable individuals (again, not just children). But it is possible to argue that everyone knew that they were being photographed and therefore there was implicit consent. Whether this consent would be held to extend to the images being published on an publicly viewable website is another matter. Again this is something that has not been determined by a court. Hence, removing photographs from open view on the rare occasions that you are requested to do so is probably the safest method so long as the interpretation of the law remains uncertain.


Kim October 1, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I’m just starting out taking photos with a view to selling as mounted prints and cards. One idea is to take a series of shots of London sights, including interiors and exteriors of London pubs/wine bars etc.. which a friend has said I could sell on his pub tours which he runs as a business.
I’ve tried to find out myself whether I’d need prior consent from the pub owners, but am finding available info incredibly confusing!
Also, does selling them in this way imply advertising my friend’s business and if so, is this a problem?


Linda Macpherson October 11, 2012 at 4:35 am

Hi Kim,
You will need the consent of the pub owners to take and sell images of the interiors. Exteriors would mostly be ok, but be aware that some pub signs will attract copyright, which you will infringe if the copyrighted elements are more than just an incidental inclusion in a more general image. Given that you are setting out to photograph the exteriors of pubs, one important element of which will probably be the signage, you are unlikely to be able to claim that the sign appearing in the photo is merely an incidental inclusion of the sign.


Kim October 11, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Thank you! That’s really, really helpful.
So presumably outside shots that don’t include any pub names or other signage would be ok?


susan October 9, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Hi Linda,
I’m looking for advice. About a month ago, my son (14) arranged to go to a party, leaving from our house, with 4 friends all of the same age. My husband took a couple of photos of them – one in our garden and one when they arrived at the party venue which was a local church hall. They were casual snaps, not posed, and he didn’t think to ask permission from the group as our son was included in both photos.
One of the parents reported him yesterday to the local police for taking photos without permission. The police arrived at our house yesterday and asked to take all our computer equipment for examination. Specifically they have taken a pc, an ipad and a laptop belonging to me, a laptop belonging to my older son, my husband’s mobile phone and his laptop. They justified this by saying that taking photos without permission was a very serious allegation and they had to take the equipment to investigate it thoroughly.
My husband has since been told that he could be charged with breach of the peace (we’re in Scotland).
Is this correct? Is it possible that he has broken the law by taking the two photos?
Any advice would be much appreciated,


Linda Macpherson October 11, 2012 at 4:57 am

Hello Susan,
There is no offence known to Scots law of “taking photos without permission” and taking such photos would not automatically be viewed as a breach of the peace. The apparent over-reaction here is, of course, because the photos are of children. Without meaning in any way to minimise the seriousness of any incident of child abuse, the present tendency to characterise anyone who takes a photograph of a child as a paedophile is not, in my view, a valid use of police resources. However, parents are often conditioned to believe that anyone who photographs their child is committing an offence and the police really have no choice but to investigate when incidents are reported to them – they would be excoriated if they did not and the photographer concerned was later found to be implicated in some form of child abuse.

Offhand, I would suggest that the issue will be dropped once the police discover that your computers, etc, contain nothing more than the usual family photos. But I have to add that breach of the peace is increasingly becoming a catch-all offence in Scotland and there have been convictions in recent years that many lawyers find rather worrying. The more so because the advice is often to plead guilty in breach of the peace cases, where in most instances the penalty is a small fine. But a conviction in a case that the sheriff regards as having any kind of “sexual element” can also mean the accused is placed on the sex offenders register, and so it is very important that a person who regards themselves as innocent does not plead guilty to a breach of the peace in such a case, and that they obtain good legal advice.

I suspect that the suspected child protection element is what is exercising the police officers in this instance. If, as a general rule, “taking photos without permission” is to be regarded as a breach of the peace then almost anyone who has taken photographs in a public place would have committed an offence.


susan October 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Thanks for your reply, Linda. I greatly appreciate you taking the time. We’re still waiting to hear from the procurator fiscal but have appointed a lawyer in the meantime just in case.
It sickens me that society has reached the point where every man seems to be regarded as a potential predator. I wish I had taken the party photos now.
I’ll let you know how we get on. Hopefully it may be of help to others.


Mia October 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm


I have a public photo blog for my now 3 year old son where I have captured pictures of him since birth. Some of these pictures have been taken at playgroups and playdates with other children or adults present. Am I breaking the U.K law for posting these pictures without anyone knowing?




Linda Macpherson October 23, 2012 at 1:58 am

Hi Mia,
The law is not very certain on this (it’s another one of those things that hasn’t yet been examined by a court), so the best answer I can give is “probably not”. There would in theory be data protection issues involved in putting photographs of a recognisable individual (adult or child) on a website. But the Information Commissioner a few years ago indicated that images uploaded by individuals to social networking sites should fall to be regarded in the same light as family photo albums – i.e. this is use for private and domestic purposes, which is not caught by the Data Protection Act. A personal blog would probably be regarded in the same way, but “probably” is the best I can offer – sorry!


S M Chan March 5, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Hello Mia,
Just another perspective from someone who’s work role involves image research and in whose private life deal has some child protection concerns.

My adopted children have been featured in marketing images for small local community activities despite my ticking the boxes against my children being photographed and these images have been used on posters in the area where their birth family live. Even without names they are physically recognisable. My children were of course delighted to see themselves on every lampost as we walked into town…

As other families might have genuine protection concerns you are not aware of, it would be a courtesy to inform other parents if their children are recognisable in any shot on a website that can be accessed by a casual browser.

If your blog isn’t easy to find and you don’t refer to other children by name, then perhaps don’t worry.
SM Chan


Cheri October 21, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Hi Linda,
Am reading all these posts and your replies with interest and wondered if you could help me too? My work organisation used a photograph taken by someone else from the web of some New Forest ponies for our website . We are located in the area but have nothing to do with horses . We are a non profit making organisation with charitable status. We received an email saying we had infringed copyright and so took the photo off immediately. Two weeks later we received a letter asking for £500 as we did not have a licence to use the photo, and if not paid in two weeks court action would follow. I realise now that we used the photo without seeking permission , however I wondered if there were any exemptions we can use to avoid paying this if we are non profit making…we are not a commercial business, it was not used to advertise our work but more to reflect the area we are in and we did stop using it as soon as notified?
With thanks,


admin October 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Linda might reply back differently, I’m not a lawyer but here’s my take on it.

No, you cannot get out of paying. You used the image without permission, your charitable status has nothing to do with it. It’s not carte blanche to take what you want or get out of paying bills retrospectively. You can decide to go to court but it’s pretty clear cut that you didn’t have permission to use the image. You would likely lose and end up paying a lot more in legal fees and court costs alone. Alternatively you could try contacting them direct to see if they will accept a smaller fee.

Photographers deserve to be fairly compensated for their work and not to have their images stolen. You should have contacted the photographer and arranged for a license with them, the price would depend on the photographer and usage.

So my advice is to pay up and learn an expensive lesson. If you need a replacement image head over to iStockphoto and try a search for ‘new forest ponies’. Using this link will give you 10 free credits which should totally cover a replacement image for web resolution. If you need images in the future there’s over 10 million of them there, on all subjects and all with royalty free licenses.


Linda Macpherson October 23, 2012 at 1:38 am

Cheri, Simon is essentially correct about the law, insofar as it makes no difference to the issue of copyright infringement (or the payment of damages) whether you are a commercial company, a charity or a private individual. If you were sued then, the actual copyright infringement being admitted or proved, the court would decide damages based on the scope of the infringement and the amount the photographer would have stood to gain had the use of the image been legitimately licensed.
A case reported this year might have some bearing since it does bear some similarities to yours. The case is Hoffman v Drug Abuse Resistance Education UK (DARE). DARE is a charitable organisation. They displayed on their website 19 photographs which had been taken from a government website – copyright in the images belonged to Mr Hoffman. Admittedly we are talking about 19 images here and they were used on the DARE website for a period of 4 years. BUT, not only is DARE a charity, but the website in question was designed by a web-designer, who in turn believed the images to be covered by Crown Copyright. DARE was completely ignorant, not of the law, but of the fact that the use of the images in question infringed the photographer’s copyright. The court held that DARE was liable. The case also sets out some interesting information about the calculation of damages in cases such as this. You may want to read it (it isn’t lengthy) and it can be found here:
In essence, though, the judge said ” The right sum by way of damages is the sum which a willing photographer in Mr Hoffman’s position and a willing user in the defendant’s position would have agreed upon as a charge for using the photographs on the websites.”
In determining this, he looked at the subject matter of the photographs and the likely market and what it would normally be willing to pay. Hoffman was, the court said, “entitled to realistic remuneration for the use of his works”. In the event, the amount awarded in damages (£10,000) was a little over half the amount that the photographer had claimed. Civil damages are intended to be compensatory and not to punish the infringer or unjustly enrich the claimant. But because he had won the legal action, costs were awarded in his favour. Ultimately this would, as Simon suggested, cost considerably more than the damages. In other words, if your charity was sued by the photographer, the court might decide that £500 was an excessive claim for the use you made of his image and he might be awarded less. But your charity would be liable for his legal costs and your own, and £500 may well be something of a drop in the ocean compared with those.
It is impossible to tell whether the photographer in your case genuinely intends to take the matter to court (in general, nobody starts a legal action lightly, and there are at present no simplified small claims procedures for copyright infringement). It may in fact be that the letter is effectively intended to spur you into at least entering into some negotiation about the use and the amount to be paid for it, and again I agree with Simon, if you contact the copyright owner direct he may be willing to negotiate a smaller fee.
You say that you took the photo down from the site as soon as you were notified, but you don’t say whether you contacted the photographer/copyright owner about the image after you had been informed it infringed copyright. To be honest, an apology and an offer to negotiate a fee for the period the image was used will usually result in a more amicable (and less expensive) result.
Many photographers are willing to provide images to charitable organisations for a small fee or for free, especially if they agree with the aims of the organisation, but they do like to be asked in advance!


Karen October 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Hi, wonder if you can help?
is it illegal to post pictures of unidentifiable people on a social networking site?

I ask this because I have taken some street photos and someone is complaining that its illegal to post a photo of someone, even if it just there back. Bearing in mind the subject of the photos are not even people. The main subject of the photos have been illegally parked cars outside my house, and there have been incidental images of people/children (all unrecognisable) I might have inadvertently (sp) posted a couple of photos in which the car registration was visible which can be removed if necessary. I basically need to know where I stand with regards to these photos please.



Linda Macpherson December 31, 2012 at 6:21 am

Hi Karen,
Some years ago the then Information Commissioner indicated that posting photos on Facebook and other SNS was generally an extension of processing data for private and domestic purposes, which is exempt from the Data Protection Act provisions. This, however, if only the IC’s opinion and does not not necessarily represent what a court might decide. However, a photograph will not in case infringe the Act if an individual cannot be identified from it and it may not be regarded as personal data even if they can be identified if the data (i.e. the photograph) is not being processed with reference to the individual. Incidental images of people who cannot be identified are not illegal. Removal of car number plate data is advisable, however, even though it does not relate directly to a person and would not necessarily contravene the Act.


Chris October 31, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Hi Linda, I was wondering if you could help me please? I am in my final year of a BA (hons) photography degree, for my dissertation I writing about the current attitudes towards photography, and incidents where photographers – who are seemingly within rights to photograph – are being told they cannot!

I have many articles that reference the right to photograph in public spaces etc, but I cannot find the actual legislation that relates to this. Any help you can give me on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards



Linda Macpherson December 31, 2012 at 6:04 am

Sorry Chris, this answer is more than a little late for you! I get asked this quite a lot, but the fact is that there isn’t really any legislation that relates specifically to photography (with exception of legislation controlling indecent images of children and the by-laws prohibiting commercial photography without a permit in places like Trafalgar Square and the Royal Parks). Instead the reasons for restricting photography or the use to which photographs can be put come within a plethora of other laws (statutory and common-law) that are aimed at a much wider range of behaviours than merely photography. e.g. The Terrorism Act 2000 (as amended), the Human Rights Act 1998, The Data Protection Act 1998, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and the common law of trespass (and, in Scotland, breach of the peace) are all frequently cited as reasons for preventing photography. And while all of them may affect the right to photograph or to publish photographs in some circumstances, none of them expressly prohibit photography in general. And they are not infrequently mis-used, by security guards, PCSOs and sometimes the police, as reasons for telling people that they cannot take photographs even when they legally can.


Chris December 31, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Many thanks for responding Linda, your help is very much appreciated.




obaidey November 8, 2012 at 11:01 pm

A couple of months ago, and as an amateur photographer, I was photographing a main street with a row of interesting houses in central Croydon
I was on a wide empty pavement of A232 double carriageway, not blocking the path of anyone
An angry woman came out of one of the houses (not entirely sure which one), crossed the double carriageway, and demanded removal of photos of “her” house
I refused to delete any pictures, but promised to stop taking any more and leave the place
She then started to attempt to take the camera off me, and threaten to smash it
When I was trying to move away, she was physically stopping me, pushing me, and would not let me leave
I was only let go when I called Police
I got all that on film (video) and it is so funny that I am quite itching to publish it
In that video, the angry woman is clearly identifiable
Her house, among other houses, would also be identifiable in the video background
Will I be breaking any privacy or copyright laws. if I published that video?
I can forward you a copy of the video if you wish


Jean Reno December 20, 2012 at 12:06 am

As a freelance photographer myself, I can categorically say, that there will be no privacy or copyright breach here, your in a public place, taking photographs of buildings or street scenes which are in the public view anyway, there is no right to privacy in a public place.

Unless you were using a ‘long lens’ shooting through her windows taking photos of the inside of her property then there is nothing illegal or unlawful here.

When you post it up, let us know the link I could do with a giggle.


Linda Macpherson December 31, 2012 at 6:34 am

There is nothing to stop you taking photographs of buildings from a public place. The CAP Code does restrict the use of images of an individual’s identifiable possessions in advertising, though even then if an image was of a row of houses, say, and nothing defamatory or misleading was implied about the houses or their residents, the Code might not come into play.
Jean Reno is mostly right, though not when he says “there is no right of privacy in a public place”. This would once have been entirely true but now it is subject to all kinds of restrictions under the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act, as several high profile court cases bear out. There are no rights of privacy in an image of your house, however, where the photography is not intrusive and does not amount to harassment. Publication of the video, though it could be seen to infringe data protection law, could be seen as a form of news reporting, since that does not imply only official news sources. News reporting is subject to some exemptions under the Act. If you edit the video so as to give a misleading impression of events, however, or accompany it with derogatory comments that you cannot prove to be true, this could be seen as a libel, which is actionable.


Rhys Allen November 12, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Dear Linda
I am a amateur photographer and at their request i have been photographing a local brass band at their public advents for their web site and Facebook page. This work is voluntary and is unpaid although i get into events for nothing as i am the band photographer also as a point my wife plays in the band. my question manly pertains to photographing members of the public interacting with the band. For instance last year they were playing in the high street (with the local council’s written permission) for Christmas and there was a collection bucket for the band and their was a young child with her parents whom put money in the bucket and was dancing to the music as toddlers do. I refrained from taking a picture for fear of any legal retribution. Could i have taken a image for the band or would i have had to gain the permission of the parents how do i stand on this. Also the band does have a child protection policy in place as they do have younger members.
Regard Rhys


Linda Macpherson January 21, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Hello Rhys,
I’m sorry, I have no idea how or why I managed to miss your post when I was answering the others!
As I keep saying, the issues involving photographing people in public are quite complex and continually developing. You will, for example, still find a lot of information and articles that flatly state that there are NO rights of privacy in a public place and this is simply not the case any more. However, privacy rights are unlikely to be infringed by photographs taken of members of the public at something akin to a public event, as you describe. Data protection is a possibly a larger issue, since a photograph of an identifiable individual is regarded as personal data within the meaning of the Act, and must be processed in accordance with the Data Protection principles. There is some court opinion that suggests that a photograph of a person can be seen as not only personal data but sensitive personal data, because by its nature it contains information about e.g. a person’s ethnicity. Consent is not the only way to comply with the Data Protection principles, but if the data is to be regarded as sensitive personal data then it’s the only way that would commonly be open to photographers. There are exemptions, but the use you describe is unlikely to fall within any of them.

The Information Commissioner has suggested that parental consent should be obtained before publishing an image of a child online.
But just taking the picture will not result in any problems with privacy or data protection law. In other words, you could have taken the photo and then asked the parents if they would consent to it appearing on the band’s website.


Gerard November 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm

If I want to use a piece of commissioned art on a book cover that is based on a new building like the gherkin in London but has a special effects added to it to make it appear damaged, as it is set in future, should i seek permission or licence from the copyright holder of the building? The piece is based on a photograph taken by the artist. The book is to be sold commercially. Thanks, in advance.


Linda Macpherson December 31, 2012 at 6:39 am

Hello Gerard,
It does not infringe the copyright in a building to take a photograph or make any other artistic representation of of it, and the resulting photograph or artwork can be distributed/copied, including for commercial purposes.


Robert December 18, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Hi, I have been taking photos and videos of a companies premises on an industrial estate to provide evidence to local council that firm is not complying with a nose plan, videos are off industrial equipment being on and pictures of Hgv vehicles on site out with permitted times. All were taken from a public footpath. The company are threatening court action. Am I allowed to contine? I live in Scotland


Linda Macpherson December 31, 2012 at 6:44 am

Hi Robert,
Can you give me more details, please, here or by email. I would like to know the exact nature of the legal action the company are threatening against you. On the face of it I can’t see any reason why you are infringing any law (though here in Scotland the catch-all of breach of peace is always a bit of an unkown quantity). But the company is, I assume, threatening you with some kind of civil action and I would be interested to know what they believe their grounds are for this.


Steve Moore-Vale December 20, 2012 at 8:42 am


I was asked to photograph a small christmas concert the other day and was also asked to get some candid pictures during the interval of people chatting, drinking wine etc. They were blissfully unaware i was snapping away. Should i have sought permission from these people to photograph them?

We were inside a church at the time and concert-goers had all paid for a ticket to get in, so in a sense it was not an entirely public event (as in anyone could not just walk in)


Linda Macpherson January 21, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Hi Steve,
What were the photographs for? Since you were asked to photograph the event you don’t have any problem as regards permission to take photographs, but there may be some restrictions on how they can be used without the permission of the subjects concerned. (Such potential problems can mostly be avoided by printing on the ticket or on a notice at the entrance that a photographer will be present taking photographs for…whatever the purpose is.)


Linda Macpherson December 31, 2012 at 5:51 am

My apologies to all who have posted that I have been absent from the site for so long! I’ve been under considerable pressure of work legal, photographic and academic and I am not always aware when comments go live. I’ll do my best to catch up with the recent comments. Linda


John Crashley January 7, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I am an amateur photographer and not generally interested in selling my work. Everything that I have read so far is both useful and clear. My thanks for that. However, the one question remaining for me is “what constitutes publication?”. Publication in the press I understand but I belong to a number of Photographic WEB sites and I enter photographic salons and competitions both abroad and in the UK. Does posting an image on a members only WEB site count as publication and if I enter a compettion, does the subsequent exhibition of the image and it’s inclusion in the associated catalogue count as publication? In the case of a WEB site the image is generally only visible to the membership unless it has been linked from a social networking site it which case it becomes visible to anyone viewing the site (if this is relevant). I realise that you probably cannot comment on the position outside of the UK but I would be grateful for any guidance you can offer.


Linda Macpherson January 21, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Hi John,
It’s one of those terms that, like the term “commercial use”, might be interpreted differently by a court depending on the kind of case in question – i.e. there is no strict, all-encompassing definition. However, a good starting point is s.175 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. In essence, publication means “making available to the public”. This would not include the exhibition of a work or inclusion in the exhibition catalogue. It would include the inclusion of an image in a book, a magazine, the press or online. It would also include offering prints for sale. For copyright purposes, at least, the definition is similar, if not identical, in all the countries that are signatories to the Berne Convention (currently 165 countries).


John Crashley January 21, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Linda, thanks very much. That is helpful. One thing puzzles me still is that there is likely to be a difference between posting an image on a photographic Web site and posting it on a social media site – or is ths just one of those imponderables that won’t be cleared up until it’s tested.


Linda Macpherson January 21, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Hi John,
It really is one of those things that everyone might have a different opinion on, but it hasn’t been tested in the courts. Images on a photographic website might only be viewable by members, but if anyone could join…? The situation isn’t helped by differing definitions. For data protection purposes, for example, the IC has indicated that posting on social media sites is to be regarded as akin to processing data for private and domoestic purposes. In patent law, subject matter is regarded as having previously been made available to the public if it has been seen or details of it have been made available to even a small number of people.
If your concern is about competitions that state that entries must not previously have been published, I suspect they generally mean publication in the usually understood sense – i.e. in a book or magazine, whether hard copy or electronic. They probably wouldn’t regard “shown to my friends on an online forum for critique” as publication. But in those cases it is probably best to contact the organisers directly and ask for clarification in advance, rather than to try and fight it out afterwards.


John Crashley January 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Thanks for the quick reply Linda. My concern is two fold and associated more with breach of privacy in connecton with street photography rather than copyright. As I understand your explanations given to others, it is not the taking of a photograph that causes a problem but its “publication” – hence my question. Many amateurs post photographs on enthusiast web sites for comment by other photographers and from your reply, I think this would be seen to be “publishing” an image. I just wasn’t clear why these Web sites are seen to be different to a social media site. When it comes to competitions (so called Salons) they usually result in a public exhibition at their completion and often a printed Catalogue is made available. Images are therefore in effect “made available to the public”. In terms of the potential consequences for privacy, it would seem that there is no difference. Hence my concerns.


Dave January 7, 2013 at 11:47 pm


I’s struggling to find and make sense of photographing copyright/trademark items. My main query, and to give it a back story, I enjoy photographing Agricultural machinery and landscapes. I feel that some of my photos are good enough for me to offer as prints. The details i’m struggling to find are: Basically, is it legal for me to photograph and sell a print of a tractor that has clear markings as its name and make? I’ve found some information on trademark, which i’m assuming most tractor manufacturers/logos are, that states that you can photograph and publish trademark materials as long as they are not sold for advertising or something that will reflect negatively on the brand. Basically i’m just looking to sell prints which would be wall-mounted etc… I wouldn’t be interesting in selling my images via any other route. All of the machinery that I have photographed so far has been owned by relatives or close friends, so i’m assuming if owner permission was needed, then it shouldn’t be a problem. Can you explain how intellectual property might come into this, and if it might cause me any problems? Many thanks.


Linda Macpherson January 21, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Hi Dave,
A trademark is infringed if a person uses, in the course of a business, an identical mark in relation to goods or services that are similar to the goods or services for which the mark is registered. Or a similar mark in connection with goods or services identical to those for which the mark is registered. For example, in a photograph you are obviously showing an identical trademark, but you are selling photographic prints and not manufacturing tractors, so you haven’t infringed the mark. BUT, “famous” trademarks, described in the Act as marks that have a reputation in the UK, will be infringed even if used on goods or services that are not similar, if this takes unfair advantage of the character or reputation of the trademark or is detrimental to it. I suppose it could be argued that you are taking advantage of the mark, but it’s a bit of a long shot.
However, you should be aware that it often isn’t only the brand name/logo that is trademarked – other physical features and colour combinations may be trademarked also. And, more importantly, you should be aware that some famous brands have registered their trademarks in respect of an incredibly wide range of goods and services. Do not, for example, try selling prints of Harley Davidson motorcycles (not agricultural machinery, I know) because they have trademarked that particular use. You can find out what any particular company has trademarks in respect of here: (Class 16 registration covers photographs and other printed matter.)
Copyright is a different beast. You infringe copyright by making a copy, regardless of whether you do it in the course of a business (though distributing infringing items in the course of a business is also a crminal offence). In general, industrial designs such as tractors would not be protected by copyright, though some logos might be protected as artistic works.


Derek July 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Hi Linda,

Just to clarify a point; would the restriction on selling prints of Harley Davidson motorcycles cover only images in which their logo is visible, since the registration seems to cover their logo and not the general outline of their bikes?


Detlef January 12, 2013 at 10:13 am


I have a question concerning photographs of London’s “Golden Eye”. When I registered to a photostock platform, I got a list with objects, places and buildings, for which I would need a property release. This list contains also the “London Eye”. I assume that the property release is only needed for commercial use of photos. Am I right?


Linda Macpherson March 10, 2013 at 2:14 am

That’s pretty much correct, Detlef. EDF, who own the London Eye, are very protective of their brand image and any commercial use that might imply a business association with the London Eye or with EDF, or any use at all in a context that might blemish their brand image, is likely to result in threats of legal action. Stock agencies often phrase their lists in terms of copyright infringement, but copyright isn’t an issue here, it’s more a question of being able to offer the images to a wide range of buyers without opening all the parties concerned (and especially the stock agency itself) to the possibility of legal action on any grounds.


reportaje boda valencia January 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm

I thought in Spain the photographers we don´t have any rights… but in UK it´s not much better…


michael eades January 20, 2013 at 1:31 pm

thanks for the forum putting out this essay & queries/comments on the law for us photographers.
can i take photo’s in a public meeting ie a meeting that is open (free in this case) to the public, even if it is in a room rented in a private property? looking at it from the other side, if so what measures can be taken to make this illegal.
thanks, michael


Linda Macpherson March 10, 2013 at 2:26 am

Hi Michael,
The short answer is that it depends on whether the organisers of the meeting decide to allow photography or not. And also, come to that, whether the owner of the property puts any restrictions on photography. The meeting may be open to the public but this means in essence that they are giving access to the public for the purposes of attending the meeting; this would not imply a right to take photographs. If they have decided not to allow photography, they don’t need to make it “illegal” as such to stop you doing it. They can post notices prohibiting photography or else simply ask you to stop. Either way, if you don’t comply, you could be made to leave the premises.


Denise Cashmore January 25, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Hi, i hope you can help. I was photographing snow scenes around the private marina where i moor my narrowboat as i have done since 2009. I heard one of my fellow moorers in distress and found he had lost his footing in the snow and fell backward, half in the icy water and his leg was trapped. All emergency serviced were called and we made him as comfortable as we could. I took some photos on my phone as the lens on my camera was inadequate for this.
The marina manager asked could i email her the images for her report, which i did. Today i received an email from the marina manager saying:
“A brief note on behalf of head office.
Apparently, it is against data protection law to hold photos of people that
have had an accident. The law permits photos of the accident site but not of
the person in the accident. So please can you delete your photos of Phil in
his accident?”

Phil who had the accident knows i took the images and is ok and asked me not to delete them incase he needs to see a solictor about said accident.
Is the email i received today right? I have been taking photos on behalf of the marina since 2009 without payment.

Many thanks


Jean Reno February 20, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Er no IMO I would say that email isn’t right. Unless there are signs about the marina expressly forbidding photographs then they would need a court order to have those images deleted.
Personally I would download the pictures and back them up on a disk, if the marina owner asks, just say that you have deleted them.


Linda Macpherson March 10, 2013 at 2:37 am

The email was somewhat disingenuous, since it suggests that data protection law deals specifically with situations where someone is involved in an accident. It doesn’t. As far as data protection law is concerned, the only person who has the right to object to you keeping the photographs is the person who is the subject of the photographs – which would be Phil in this instance, and he apparently wants you to keep them. Also, if you are keeping the photos for nothing more than your own private and domestic purposes, they don’t fall within the Data Protection Act at all.
(I’m assuming that you are not an employee of the marina and thus subject to its own data protection policies, whatever they may be, or that there are conditions under which people can moor boats at the marina that don’t allow them to take photos of other people using the marina.)


Lola February 11, 2013 at 1:55 am

Thank you for taking the time out to answer all of the questions above from various photographers. It is quite useful to know the law/the dos and the donts for what we do.

Are you able to help shed some light on the query below please.

I recently had an email for an old client – (twice-unpaid work – in the last year and half) stating that I should reference them on my Facebook page/anywhere the images are used. The work was carried out for a look book and I have not had any form of promotion from the client (No qualms). No contract was signed, but a verbal agreement for them to use the images to promote (MUA).

2nd of all, i’m currently advertising and promoting myself with wedding planners (newspapers/magazines/e-brochures) which will be going to print shortly, my understanding is I own the images and based on agreement, the client can use the images to promote her work and vis-versa. Do I need to ask for permission before proceeding and I have just found out the client has been placing their logo on my images without permission. What would you advice in this instance?


Linda Macpherson March 10, 2013 at 3:18 am

Hi Lola,
You are talking about TF work, I take it? Generally these arrangements work well without any kind of written agreement but every so often something like this arises and acts as a reminder that it really is a good idea to have a clear agreement, preferably in writing, about what everyone can and can’t do with the images. (I’m not lecturing here, I’m sometimes guilty of not doing this myself with TF shoots and I definitely should know better!)

It’s pretty common (but not universal) for all the parties involved in TF shoots to reference each other, especially on sites like Facebook where all of them may have business pages. But if that hasn’t been agreed, then no-one has to do it, all they can do is request and you can decide whether to comply or not. Or you can tell them you will agree to their request if they also credit you wherever they use the images.

With regard to using the images for advertising, let me make sure I have this clear – you are the photographer and the client was a MUA, is that right? If so, then you own the copyright and the agreement is that you and your client can each use the images to promote your respective work. You have effectively granted a copyright licence to the client. You don’t need their permission to use the images in the way you describe but if the images depict a model or other 3rd party you will need a release from them.

As for the client putting their logo on your images, they are technically altering your work without your consent in a way that would infringe your moral rights in the works.

In practical terms, it would be best to stop this escalating into a major disagreement if you can. It would be difficult to prove exactly what was agreed between you without any kind of written agreement and in any case any kind of legal efforts to enforce rights would be costly in comparison with the financial worth of the images. If you can negotiate some kind of mutual crediting/referencing (or none on either side) that would probably be the best way to proceed.


Chris February 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I have recently had someone who has a contract with me basically lie that they are carrying out the contracted work. I went to see whether what they were saying was true – i.e. they were the ones fulfilling the contract. They weren’t someone else was doing the work for them. I photographed the person that was doing the work going into the building on one day (no problem there as it was in a public place I presume) but the next day I went into the building (a squash club) to photo them doing the work so I could prove the original person wasn’t the one carrying out the work. Now I’m worried that the squash club could be deemed private and I can’t show the photo as I could be breaking some law. Is this correct? Any help would be brilliant thank you!


Linda Macpherson March 10, 2013 at 3:40 am

Hi Chris,
A bit difficult to answer this without more details. The squash club may have restrictions on photography on its premises. Many such organisations do. You could be regarded as a trespasser if you were taking photographs in contravention of any such restrictions, and if so any images obtained might not be admissible in evidence if you were to bring a legal action against the person you had the contract with. I’m not 100% clear that’s the information you were looking for, though.


Hannah February 17, 2013 at 3:29 pm

HI there, just looking for a bit of information about photography laws..

So I was volunteering recently handing out some flyers and sharing information about a new and corrupt planning proposal for a large commercial space in my home town. Whilst doing so I find myself being filmed by a chap from the council. I spotted him and asked him politely why he was filming me, please stop and remove that image. Now I have a feeling that it is alright for him to take an image of me, but not for him to use it publicly without my permission and a model release… is this true?

Many thanks



Linda Macpherson March 10, 2013 at 3:47 am

Hannah, I’m assuming you were in a public place when this filming happened? In theory you would not have any rights of privacy there, but the Council is subject to the Data Protection Act and its principles when storing or handling personal data (which would include video of you. They are unlikely to use it publicly, as such, it’s more likely to be for the purposes of recording the strength of opposition or even identifying the people involved. If the latter, then the Data Protection Act would apply. The Data Protection Principles are too lengthy to cite here, but you can find them at
Breach of the principles would mean the Council was acting unlawfully and could be reported to the Office of the Information Commissioner.


Richard Jefferies March 9, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Family Photos

My wife is an author and wants to use photos from the family album in part of her publicity. They were taken by unidentified family members and friends around 50 years ago. Her father is now dead and her mother has dementia.

Her sister says she doesn’t want any family pictures used. Has she that right? What is the situation when the photos are mainly of my wife as a child/baby.


S King March 18, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Hi Richard,

Personally, if you can’t identify the photographer, and your wife is the only person within the photographs, then i’d say she’s free to use them in any way she sees fit.

In terms of other images with her father / mother in them, I guess you could ask the question: if her father was alive / her mother without dementia, would they approve of the use that she intends to put them to. Because that question is probably not able to be answered in a satisfactory way, i would argue that those pictures are also able to be used by your wife, by assuming that the parents would think positively towards their daughter’s interests.

If any of the images contain the sister, then i would imagine that she would have to be photoshopped out of them, or the images not used. As your wife is wanting to use them as publicity, she is hoping for a positive outcome with respect to her work – and that is something that a person can rightly request not to be a part of.

Hope that helps in some way


Linda Macpherson March 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Sorry, S King, but you have rather brushed over the fundamental issue of copyright here. “If you can’t identify the photographer” does not mean someone is “free to use them in any way she sees fit” or, in other words, allow someone to reproduce a work in which copyright subsists without the consent of the copyright owner. Even the proposed regulations on orphan works (contained within the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill and not yet law) will not go nearly that far, since they simply allow the Secretary of State to make regulations designating a body that can grant licences for such works – a licence would still be needed.

I am assuming that the use your wife proposes to make of the photos involves some kind of reproduction of the original photos – scanning them to use on a website, or having them printed in/on a book or in a brochure. If all she wants to do is display the original, physical prints from the album, at an exhibition, say, then copyright will not apply and the would simply need the consent of the person who owns the prints (presumably her mother, who may be incapable of consenting, whereby consent would come from whoever is legally responsible for managing her affairs).

But on the original assumption that some form of copying/reproduction of the photographs is intended, then the key question is whether copyright subsists in them, which in turn depends, among other factors, on when they were taken. Copyright in old photographs is a somewhat complex matter.

You said the photographs were taken “around 50 years ago” so I am assuming therefore that they were taken after 1957. For photographs taken after 1st June 1957 but before the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 came into force in 1989, the copyright status of a photograph depends on whether it was published or unpublished by 1st August 1989. Since these photographs form part of a family album, I am assuming that they have not previously been published at any time. For photographs not published as at 1st August 1989, if the photographer died before 1st January 1969, copyright will expire on 31st December 2039. If the photographer was still alive as at 1st January 1969, then copyright will expire 70 years after the photographer’s death (I said it was complicated!).

Either way, it is fairly safe to assume that these photographs are still in copyright and the consent of the copyright owner will be required before they can be reproduced in physical or electronic form. To complicate the matter further, for photographs taken between 1912 and 31st July 1989, copyright owner was not the photographer but the person who owned the materials (i.e. the film) on which the photographs were taken. This would often be the same person as the photographer, but not necessarily.

Unless or until the new legislation sets up some body which can authorise copyright licences in orphan works, reproduction would, as I said, require the consent of the copyright owner (who may now quite possibly be whoever inherited the copyright from the original copyright owner). It has to be said that, in the case of family snaps like this, the current copyright owner is unlikely to even be aware that they do own the copyright in anything, and even the original photographer/owner of the film probably wasn’t aware of it. And the chances are that they couldn’t care less if the photos are copied and used. But since you asked for the legal position, then there it is.

As to your main point, which I think is one of privacy/data protection, no issues arise there in respect of photos where the only person represented is your wife. As your wife’s father is deceased, data protection/privacy rights have no application to him. Other living persons represented in the images may have some right to object, the Data Protection Act allows of exceptions, and necessary use for literary purposes is one, but this would not apply where the use for for publicity (aka advertising) rather than as part of e.g. a memoire or autobiography.

There is also, as I mentioned, the issue of who currently owns the physical prints that your wife intends to reproduce.

I rather suspect this doesn’t help, but it does represent the law, tangled as it is.


S King March 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm

oops! sorry, and duly noted! I really appreciate your great work here, and i would hate to be a pain, so my sincere apologies to you Simon and Linda.

The only thing i would say in my defence is that i was assuming that the photographer was a family member, that the shots were taken as snaps, off the cuff and without any thought that there could be any “commercial” use, whether then or in the future – and that the photographer, being part of the family, would be happy to see the future generation benefit from something that was probably thought of, at the time of taking, as trivial and fleeting. Also, we were only ever talking about shots where the sole identifiable person was Richard’s wife.

Of course, not being able to identify the photographer does not mean a free for all … but again personally, if my Gran had taken a picture of me half a life time ago, and i was the only person in it, i would fight tooth and nail (whether in court or without) against any other person who said that (the copyright having passed to them) i mustn’t make use of the image. I would believe such a blockage, or any desire for payment, to go whole heartedly against my memories and expectations of her – and, importantly, what i would imagine her wishes to be, were she able to express them. I understand that a person’s wishes may legally be immaterial once a different person is in possession of the copyright, but i’d also imagine that their disbursement was never done with a view to what the original copyright holder’s wishes might be.

It’s a very hard situation because people, even now, would hardly ever recognise a potential commercial use for their snaps and, as a result, i’d guess that the instances where any or all images are named in a will, to be very very small. As a result of the lack of documentation, a lack of considered disposal with regards the copyright, a probable lack of management (whether in a photo library / family repository / weekly slide shows within the family), the lack of other people in the images, and a probable desire for the family’s advancement on the part of the original copyright holder, i would suggest that Richard’s wife has a greater claim to free usage of the images than anyone else, and as such i’d imagine her quite able to freely use the images for her own advancement.

Apologies again, i greatly value your insight and commitment Linda, and i hope i haven’t been a source of annoyance.



Linda Macpherson March 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Not at all, Slater! Anyone is free to post here (subject to the will of Simon as admin, of course) and anyone is free to argue with me, come to that.
I agree that, in terms of ordinary, everyday life, what you said is what most normal-thinking people would think. I was just explaining what the law says, and, when it comes to copyright, the law is painfully technical and doesn’t take any account of family relationships, friendships or what people might expect that someone might have wanted. It really doesn’t distinguish between a family snap or a professional work of art, either.

In circumstances like this, is anyone likely to make a fuss? Or even be aware that they might have the right to make a fuss? Not really, to be honest. Except that, if Richard’s sister-in-law is determined that the photos aren’t to be used, she might try to make sure that someone does object, so it is as well to be aware of the possible ramifications.

To give an entirely different example, let’s say that Joe Bloggs wrote a series of love letters to Mary, but he later marries Jane. Joe is killed in an accident, and his will leaves his entire estate to Jane. Because copyright is an ownership right, this would include any copyrights he might own (whether he is aware of them or not, because unlike a patent or a trademark, copyright arises automatically). Copyright belongs to the author, so copyright in the love letters in Mary’s possession now belongs to Jane. If Mary wants to write her memoire and publish the letters as part of that, she will infringe copyright unless she has Jane’s consent (or unless copyright has expired, which would be 70 years after Joe’s death). Mary own the physical letters, but not the copyright in their content. She can show them to anyone she wants, but she can’t reproduce the contents. The most she can do is describe the information contained in them and perhaps quote a line or two (if we were still talking about photographs, she would be left with no more than the right to describe the photograph). Most people would shake their heads at this, after all, the letters are in her possession and they were written to her. And the copyright in them has little or no commercial value (and copyright, after all, was invented to protect the commercial interests of creators of works). The law doesn’t care. The law says the copyright belongs to Jane and her consent is needed before the contents of the letters can be reproduced.

The proposed provisions on orphan works will change this, in that, provided there has been due diligence to search for the copyright owner, whatever body the Secretary of State sets up will have the power to grant a copyright licence where the copyright owner can’t be found. It will almost certainly become law this year, so may resolve Richard’s wife’s issues as far as copyright is concerned. (Though, in general terms, the orphan works legislation is of great concern to photographers, for good reason, it may actually have a useful application in cases like this.)


S King March 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm

oh well, it was a fair cop!

ps re: the orphan works bill, it certainly sounds bad for professional photographers


Simon March 17, 2013 at 5:48 pm

I just wanted to check that i haven’t mised somehow missed a recent legal change on street photography.

Recently I was taking photographs in the centre of my nearest large town (the park, churches, the high street, etc.). After taking one shot, which was a general view of a street right in the very centre I was approached in an rather aggressive manner by a middle-aged female ‘traffic enforcement officer’ or whatever the current name is for someone who gives tickets to people parking on double yellow lines. I had no car with me. She said “I hope you didn’t take a photograph with me in”. I said, “why not?”. Her reply in the same unfriendly tone “because you didn’t ask my permission”. I laughed. And not wishing to get into anything either protracted or nasty I just walked off. As I walked off I heard her use her radio and asked for ‘control’. A minute or two later I noticed that she was following me! This continued for a a good five minutes, with her even increasing speed when I did. After five minutes she disappeared. Am I correct in thinking that no permission is needed in taking a photograph in a public place, even if it does happen to include a parking ticket woman? It seems rather odd that anyone should have to answer to such people, especially when they are simply pedestrians taking photographs in a public place.


S King March 18, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Hi Simon,

Yes, you’re right! (Though it must have been a bit freaky!!)

I’d guess that the woman concerned had in the past been in some sort of altercation, and she was coming with the mind set that you were connected in some way, and she was trying to protect herself.

Back to what you did – it was all above board and fine, no need to worry! You’re allowed to take photographs in public spaces.



Simon March 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Thanks very much for the confirmation.

And, yep, it certainly was a freaky few minutes. I still have nightmares involving fat women in green reflective vests following me! :-)


S King March 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm

you’re lucky … in mine they’re not wearing the vests! :)


admin March 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Hahaha. Yes as S King says the laws haven’t changed. I’d guess that ‘control’ told her to stop following a random person and get back to work ;)


Simon March 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Eeeks!!! Now you’ve done it, ‘S King’. I shan’t be able to close my eyes tonight ;-)

Thanks, again, for the replies and invaluable advice provided by your website.


Linda Macpherson March 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of similar incidents involving traffic wardens/parking attendants. Actually one might have been posted here a couple of years ago, but I’ve certainly had private e-mails about them. Usually involving female parking attendants, oddly enough. Perhaps there is some bizarre error in their traffic warden training manual that leads them to believe they cannot be photographed without express permission.
Seriously, if you took a photo specifically of her, and you put it to some use that infringed the Data Protection Act, she might have a point. Otherwise, no, the laws haven’t changed.

There is a worrying increase in the belief that taking anyone’s photo in any circumstances without their permission is automatically an infringement of their human rights. This belief seem has become widespread among the police, too.
Perhaps you should have called the police and complained that you were being subjected to harassment. ;)


Linda Macpherson March 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm

By the way, Simon, what timezone is the clock on this site set to? I thought I’d lost an hour of my life just then! :D


admin March 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Should be fixed now.


Linda Macpherson March 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Thanks, Simon! I should have kept quiet, really, cos the clocks change in a couple of weeks anyway. I wondered for a minute if they had changed and I’d missed it!


admin March 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm

No, no I’m glad you told me. Obviously I’ve totally missed the issue all this time ;)


steve moore-vale March 19, 2013 at 1:47 pm

A little while ago I posted a message on here with regard to the event photography I do for the great Ellingham Teddy Bear Festival.  You gave me some advice  regarding photos of people and how candid closeups could infringe data protection.
As of last weekend I have now put a photo archive of over 2000 images online. The crowd shots I am pretty sure are ok but the candid close ups I’m not so sure about. I have added the following disclaimer.    
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER The photo archive contains hundreds of images of people, both in crowds and close-up, who were photographed at the events. If any of the images i have displayed are of you or one or more of your ‘loved ones’ and you wish them to be removed, please do not hesitate to let me know and I will be happy to remove it/them. Just state the event title/year and the image name as stated on the photo page [email protected]

Is that sufficient or will that not cover me.   Furthermore, I have also decided to put on tickets and posters for future events that photography will be taking place. I will also put a sign up on the doors at each event to say the same.   Does all of the above sound good or would you recommend anything else to cover myself.   Steve Moore – Vale


Linda Macpherson April 23, 2013 at 12:56 am

Hi Steve,
Sorry for the late response! In my view your disclaimer should be sufficient. “should be” is the best I can offer since we have no definitive judgments on the matter. Technically, since more than one court has suggested that photographs of an individual might fall to be regarded as sensitive personal data, consent should, in theory, always be sought. That said, the Information Commissioner has warned against taking the definition of sensitive personal data to the point of absurdity.

A notice on tickets, posters and entrances to events that photography will be taking place there and that the images may be published is always an advisable precaution, since then people would be deemed to have consented by entering the event. This is sufficient, with the proviso (which applies to contractual terms, disclaimer notices, etc, in general) that the term must be adequately brought to the other person’s attention – i.e. it should not, for example, be in tiny print, difficult to read or hidden away from general view. Also, if an event allows admission to unaccompanied children, they may not be regarded as competent to consent to the condition.

As an aside, but worth noting, the European Commission has proposed a new Data Protection Regulation which considerably strengthens the rights of data subjects and which will almost certainly eliminate the fairly flexible and pragmatic approach taken by successive UK Information Commissioners. The final form of the Regulation is not completely certain, and it is any case unlikely to come into full force until a couple of years from now, but anything I might say now about data protection and images of people may not be correct in the near future.


Graham March 20, 2013 at 11:04 pm

I am an amateur photographer and I do not use any of my work commercially. If I pay an entrance fee to see a sports event–are there any restrictions on me taking photographs of that event, or would I need permission to do so.


Linda Macpherson April 23, 2013 at 1:06 am

Hi Graham,
It depends on the terms and conditions for the individual event – some will prohibit all photography, some will allow it freely and some might permit amateur but not commercial photography. Terms and conditions are usually printed on tickets, but sometimes the ticket just contains a reference to somewhere, such as a website, that the full terms and conditions can be read.
If in doubt, it pays to ask in advance whether photography is allowed, rather than arguing about it later.


Linda Macpherson April 23, 2013 at 1:06 am

Hi Graham,
It depends on the terms and conditions for the individual event – some will prohibit all photography, some will allow it freely and some might permit amateur but not commercial photography. Terms and conditions are usually printed on tickets, but sometimes the ticket just contains a reference to somewhere, such as a website, that the full terms and conditions can be read.
If in doubt, it pays to ask in advance whether photography is allowed, rather than arguing about it later.


Karen April 21, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Fifteen months ago I worked for a Dental Practice where ‘team’ photographs taken professionally for marketing purposes. When I left the company I asked for my images to be removed from the website etc. The Dentist continued to use my image and recently sent out A4 flyers in the local newspaper inviting potential patients to ‘meet the team’ alongside a photo of four members (of which only two remain). Obviously, the photographer owns the copyright and gave the dentist usage rights. However, my colleagues and I have never signed a release form at any stage. I have now moved on and have a new job and my new employer does not appreciate my image being used to promote another practice. I also do not wish this to be used in my community, especially when I no longer work there and haven’t for the past 15 months.
Many thanks in anticipation.


Linda Macpherson April 23, 2013 at 1:55 am

Hello Karen,
Your contract of employment may have covered the practice’s use of your image while you were working there, though if it didn’t then your ex-employer should really have sought your consent. There is something of a grey area over whether a photograph of a person falls to be regarded as sensitive personal data (there is no doubt that it is personal data, especially if accompanied by your name), if it does not then your consent might be implied from your agreeing to be photographed knowing what the purposes of the photographs was. “Consent” for the purposes of the Data Protection Act does not have to be in writing, though having it in writing is useful for evidential purposes.
The use of your image after you have left their employment is another matter. For one thing, they are misrepresenting you as being an employee of the practice. They are also infringing the Data Protection Act 1998 – the data protection principles contained in Schedule 1 of that Act state that “Personal data processed for any purpose or purposes shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes.” Thus any personal data relating to your employment should not be kept when your employment has ceased, save for that required to be kept by law, such as data contained in tax records. It might be worth reminding your former employer of this. If he still fails to comply, you might consider reporting the matter to the Information Commissioner’s Office (this can be done online, and is free.)


Karen West April 23, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Hi Linda,
Thank you so much for your prompt response to my query. I really appreciate your answer and feel better placed to make a decision to move forward.


Linda Macpherson April 24, 2013 at 1:24 am

No problem, Karen. :)


Rachel May 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Any chance of a more upto date one?
I see that it is dated 2009, its now 2013 , I am sure some laws may have changed, and if not.. a new date will help for those carrying the guide :)


Gary Walker June 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm

To Linda Macpherson

I note you said that the rules of there being no privacy in a public place are changing.

So when is it ok/not ok to take photos in a public place (ie for photos for one’s own use)


Tom June 27, 2013 at 9:37 am

Hi Linda,

There has been photos took of a residential area surrounding a prospective development site for use in a planning application which is publically available online on the council website.

Are the photographs of the residential properties allowed to be published online as the addresses are also included due to the fact it is a planning application?

No permission has been sought from residents, and one of the photos seems to be taken from the drive of one of the residential properties. Is this trespass? If so can they still publish it?



Mark July 24, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Very informative site.
tried to access this page in my local library (Barnsley)
Their filters have blocked it because of “pornography”
Can you enlighten.



admin September 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Sorry I can’t comment without knowing more. Do you know what website filtering software they use? There’s certainly no porn on this site so it’s likely an overactive word filter at play.


Roger July 24, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I found this page while searching about a similar issue. I recently discovered that a company are using photographs of me in their brochures, both printed and online version. Although I am known to the company, they never asked me for permission and since they are actually a competitor company to mine, I am pretty surprised that they would do this.
Are they allowed to use images of me without my consent in this way? A part of me feels that had they asked beforehand, I might not have minded per se but to suddenly discover myself in a competitor’s brochure is disconcerting!


Simon Piper July 29, 2013 at 8:00 pm


Thank you for posting the UK Photographer Guide which I have read with interest.

I work in PR and a client of mine has a photo where the subject is a person (member of the public who did not know they were being shot or did not consent to being shot) silhouetted at the entrance to a cave – they are pretty much unidentifiable, you can not make out any of their facial features etc.

They would like to use the image for commercial purposes and also possibly run a PR campaign where they attempting to find out who the subject is in order to gain some exposure for their business.

I have two questions;

1. Can they use this image for commercial purposes – they have no model release form, but the subject is not really identifiable.

2. If someone did claim to be the subject would they be entitled to royalties or sue?

I would be most grateful if you could answer these questions.


Simon Piper


Brian September 1, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Hi Linda,
This a fantastic site that I came across by chance after trying to clarify the latest amendments and or changes to our liberties as regards to street photography. I have been unable to partake of my favorite form of photography for a number of years due acute I.B.S, though now that I seem to be able to leave my house with out carrying a good supply of Andrex I thought I might take up where I left off. So: what is new as to photography in public places? Am I still relatively safe if I abide by the laws of our relatively free nation. I don’t receive any payment for my photographs as they’re one: not that good, and two, for my own enjoyment. I do place them on flicker (moving to photo bucket as flicker site now too commercial) as I think it’s good to share happy moments that are frozen in time. I still have the original (get out of goal free) BFP card from 2008, has a new version been issued to-date? And does the quote below still hold water?

‘There are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital in a public place. Therefore members of the public and press should not be prevented from doing so.
We must acknowledge that citizen journalism is a feature of modern life and police officers are now filmed and photographed more than ever.
Unnecessarily restricting photography, whether for the casual tourist or professional is unacceptable and it undermines public confidence in the police service.
Once an image has been recorded, the police have no power to delete or confiscate it without a court order.
All forces guidance letter, 26th August 2010. Andrew Trotter.
Chief countable, chair of ACPO communication advisory group.


Matthew October 10, 2013 at 2:09 am

I’ve produced a photo book with a paparazzi photographer which I’m going to be selling online. The photos are of the paparazzis work in the 1980′s/1990′s and are of people like: Michael Jackson, Robert DeNiro, River Pheonix, Cher……there are about 40 in total.

I wondered if you might have an idea about ‘likeness rights’, ‘unathorized photos’ etc…….

All the pics were taken by the photog when he was hired as a freelance paparazzi and he has the copyright to use the photos as he likes (as part of his contracts). However do we need the permission of the celebrities in the pictures to publish them?

Originally the photos were taken for publicity reasons. None are hidden cameras or anything. The photos are: Posed. Arriving at events (movie premieres….cd release parties….etc). Performing….etc.

I wondered if there was a clear statement on the front cover and on the first page that these pictures are ‘unauthorized’ we might be alright using them? I know I’ve bought many books on bands/actors over the years which have ‘Unauthorized’ on the front and a statement that ‘no part of this book has been authorized by…’.

Any thought on this would be a great help.
All the best,


Julia Killick October 24, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Dear Linda,

I publish academic books for the publishing wing of CABI, which is a not for profit organisation.

Most of our books are written by academics who often supply their own photographs, which can include pictures of individuals – particularly tourism-related texts. The images are occasionally used as front covers and could potentially be used in marketing literature. Obtaining copyright permission is the responsibility of the author but I am wondering if we should be advising authors to obtain a model release form from people they photograph? I’ve spent several hours combing the internet for guidance but it seems to be conflicting!

Julia Killick


Stewart October 25, 2013 at 4:17 pm


I paid an admission fee to enter a privately owned local historic building (it’s not owned by the National Trust or English Heritage).

I wasn’t made aware of any restrictions on taking photographs when I paid my admission fee.

Some of the photos I took I would like to put on my blog and sell to the public as a poster print.

Could you tell me what are the legalities of…
a, putting these images on my public blog
b, selling poster prints of the images I took whilst visiting the property



Chris English February 5, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Hello Linda,
Thanks for this useful Photographer’s Rights Guide – it and the discussions above are all very interesting.
It got me thinking about the situation at events, gigs, etc at private venues or pubs, which I hope you could clarify please. I understand that owners can impose whatever restrictions they choose as a condition of entry, but if a photography ban at such an event is not explicitly stated where one might reasonably expect to read it – eg. on the ticket, or relevant website or on a sign at the venue – can one rightly proceed on the assumption that photography is not restricted?
Also, if a ticketed event / performance is taking place on what is normally a public place such as a park, can a photography restriction be legally imposed in such a situation?


Becky November 26, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Dear Linda,

I live in a gated walk with townhouses with access for private residence and guests only. I was surprised to see commercial photography with models, make-up artist etc taking place this morning on the private street. It is for a fur coat company owned by one of the renters on the walk. I’m not sure if this is legal as the renter has permission to be on the private property but did not give any notice or ask permission for commercial photography. My neighbour was away and they took photos with a model in her doorway with her number showing. She does not want to be linked to this company or product.

What can she/we do?

Kind regards, Becky


Richie Hall December 5, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Hi Simon,

I’ve read a lot recently regarding people effectively making up their own laws regarding image rights, your article explains a lot and if you don’t mind I’ve linked this to my FB page.



Simon December 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Dear Linda,

Sorry to bother you I understand you’re very busy but I hope you can give me an answer to the following question.

I plan to start my own photography event freelance business and read with interest your guide to the UK law but I’m concerned that my idea might be breaking the law.

I plan to take pictures of public events for free (if private event then I would of course seek permission from the organisers if not booked for an event), take photos of the participants (with their verbal permission) and then inform them they can download a free picture from my web site at a lower quality but if they wish to have a higher resolution image then they have to purchase their picture for a small fee.

If however I forget to ask permission, take the picture and then approach the individual and explain the situation (especially if the picture(s) are of a child under 18 to a parent/guardian – I am fully CRB checked as I used to work in education and have public liability insurance), I’m worried that I could be breaking the law as I’m asking for money.

Do I need permission and what’s the situation about taking pictures and then charging?



ray January 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Dear Linda.

Where does the law stand on the use of tripods. I was taking photographs of Westminster Bridge from outside the council building using my tripod.
Two uniformed security guards approached me and stated I could take photographs, but not use a tripod. I asked why and they said the land was private. There were no signs saying it was private and no notice not to use a tripod.. I later rang Westminster police and they said that there was not a law about using a triod and no action would ever be taken.
I can only presume that it is a civil offense. I did ring the town hall, they said that they have policies about filming and using a tripod.I asked them what they would do if I refused to move on as I wasn’t breaking any law only council rules. They were very evasive in their reply, I got the feeling that there was nothing they could do. I plan another trip to London next week what would be your advice when ordered to move on?. I should also mention that I cannot use my camera hand held as I have a medical condition that makes my hands shake.




Chris English February 7, 2014 at 8:07 am

Hello Linda,
Thanks for this useful Photographer’s Rights Guide – it and the discussions above are all very interesting.
It got me thinking about the situation at events, gigs, etc at private venues or pubs, which I hope you could clarify please. I understand that owners can impose whatever restrictions they choose as a condition of entry, but if a photography ban at such an event is not explicitly stated where one might reasonably expect to read it – eg. on the ticket, or relevant website or on a sign at the venue – can one rightly proceed on the assumption that photography is not restricted?
Also, if a ticketed event / performance is taking place on what is normally a public place such as a park, can a photography restriction be legally imposed in such a situation?

ps Apologies for repeating this enquiry – my first attempt resulted in it being displayed as a reply to another person’s message!


Christine February 14, 2014 at 12:07 am

Hi Linda
I have concerns over property for sale websites that advertise a service stating that if you register with them (presumably for a subscription) they can give you access to photographs of properties that are not currently for sale. I presume this would be photos from old sales particulars.
We bought our property in 2005, and since then we have not given permission for photos of our property to be taken (we live in a private road).
The website I refer to has previously stated that photos of my property are available to view by members of the public in return for a subscription (my property is not for sale).
I don’t know whether any photos they may have of my property might include internal photos or just external ones. I have contacted the company raising data protection concerns, and reminding them that any photos previously taken for use during a previous sale should not be retained longer than is necessary, but they are still advertising this service. Surely this is illegal? I’m not comfortable that photos of my property may be available to anyone.


Karen Sarkar February 17, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Hi Linda,
I am an artist who predominantly works from photographs. In the past I have taken photos of individuals in the street and used the image for a painting. The images I used were of the person walking away which shows no facial features but I appreciate may still be recognisable to that person or someone who knew them. I didn’t ask them afterwards for their permission as it didn’t occur to me and it wasn’t for commercial reasons. However, if I were to have exhibited these paintings in a public gallery or been asked to sell the work, would I have breached ECHR law or Data Protection?
Many thanks


donna rapley July 22, 2014 at 11:19 pm


I am freelance photographer and I photograph kids parties. I photographed a party in 2013 and it was before I was made aware I should get model release forms signed. I had verbal permission to post photo’s onto my fb page and I used one as my cover – which is still there. I also used the same image for flyers. This has been up for 12mths and the people init have always bee aware of it.

A year later they wanted to use my services again. I couldnt do and so another photographer did the job. They are unhappy with the photos and because I have refused to refund any money (£60) I have been asked to take the photo down as they didnt give me permision and will seek legal advice from trading standards.

Do I need to be worried? Im happy to take it down that’s not the issue. I just want to know if there is anything they can do?

Many Thanks


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