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Do I own photos I took at a job site while working as a contractor for another company

1 Answers. Asked on May 15th, 2015 on Intellectual Property - Texas
More details to this question:
I have taken photographs at a job site that I worked on. The job site was owned by a customer. I was a contractor, not an employee of the company paying me. The company I worked for had a small part in the overall projects. My primary job I was hired to do was as a project manager to oversee the construction activities. The photos taken by me were just incidentally taken during the course of the project as time allowed so I had some memoirs of the job I was working on. There was no written agreement or signed contract of any kind between me and the company that hired me. Its my understanding that I own the copyright of the photos. As such I could use them any way I wish, including in commercial activity, i.e., on a commercial website.Is this correct?
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Licenced in TX
Answered on May 19th, 2015 at 12:27 PM

As a basic premise, a person who takes photographs becomes the owner (absent a written agreement to the contrary) of the legal copyright interests in and to the photographs taken and thus, as the owner, has certain legal rights to use of the photographs.  However, there are various legal principals that may limit or restrict the basic premise set forth above.  Based on the facts that you have presented, I would have a number of additional questions in order to be able to try to answer your questions.  For instance, I understand you were an independent contractor working as project manager on a jobsite.  The company that employed you may very well have an agreement with the owner/developer of the property with regard to photographs of the property, development of the property etc, such that your employer had no right to have you or anyone else take photographs (even if the employer did not know you were doing it).  Similarly, many construction/development contracts contain specific provisions pertaining to intellectual property rights including architectural designs, construction plans and drawings, etc.  Many owners/developers of properties specifically restrict and control who has the legal right to take photographs of a project under development and where and how those photographs can be used.  If your photographs contain an image of a company name, logo, trademark, you could have another issue concerning misuse or infringement of another's trademark or other IP assets.  In short, the specific answer to your question is likely to depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your situation, and not entirely on what you did or did not sign with your immediate employer.  I would need to have more information to best respond to your inquiry.

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Intellectual Property
The legal system recognizes the rights of people and companies that invent and create unique works, granting them ownership of those tangible and intangible assets through a number of intellectual property laws. Intellection property, or IP, includes patents, trademarks, copyright, trade dress and trade secrets. Intellectual property attorneys work with businesses and individuals (including inventors, writers, composers, artists and designers) to help protect these intellectual assets. IP lawyers and law firms can assist with taking initial steps to protect assets, while also working with clients to license items and to protect assets that are plagiarized, infringed and/or misappropriated.
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