What are my rights if I’m a photographer and have several thousand pictures of a model who has requested that I delete all pictures of them for personal reasons?

These pictures are my potential incomes, as well as potential income for the models they posed with. Does this model have the right to have those pictures deleted? Can I sue for the lose of potential income?

Asked on August 12, 2014 under Business Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The question is answered by who owns the pictures, which basically comes down to who hired you to take them/paid for them. Examples:

1) You hired models to pose for you, so you could take photos which you hope to resell and use to advertise your business. Those photos belong to you. Do with them as you will. You might decide it's right or  moral to honor this model's request, but that's your choice--you're not required to.

2) Acme Company hired you to take the photos to advertise and market their new "Anvil Wear" line. The photos belong to Acme; you and the models can't do anything to, or use, the photos without Acme approval.

3) Models hired you to take photos of them for their own use (e.g. in portfolios). You have no right to the photos--they belong to the models. Model A can ask you to destroy any negatives, files, etc. of photos only involving Model A; as for photos which also had Models B, C, and D in them, that's for the 4 models to work out, possibly in a court of law--but in any event, you can't do anything with photos which you do not own the rights to.

The above are just general rules: if there are any applicable contracts or agreements, their terms will control and you need to review those contracts to see what you and the model can and cannot do.


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