Is it illegal to use images from a former employer to build a website for your business?

UPDATED: Jul 12, 2012

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Is it illegal to use images from a former employer to build a website for your business?

I worked as a structural engineer at a former employer and now I’m starting my own business. My former employer has images of the projects I worked on and now I want to use them for my website. I think since I worked on the projects I should use them. This is no different from stating the projects on my resume.

Asked on July 12, 2012 under Business Law, Virginia


Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It depends on who took the pictures and what they are of:

WHO:  the person who takes pictures owns the copright to that picture.  If your employer took the photo or you took the photo while working for them, they own the copyright.  Then you would need permission from the (C) holder to use the photo.

WHAT:  If the object/project would be revealed by the picture in a way that would reveal a trade secret, then you can't use the photo whether or not they own the (C) to the individual photo.

THAT said, how likely is it that the company will even be aware that you are using the photos?  If you put them on marketing materials and the website...then you are running a risk.

I would just ask them for permission.

Best of luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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