Who holds the copyright?

Last month after presenting my talk on Copyright Issues for 21st Century Genealogists for the Clark County Nevada Genealogical Society, I received an email from a member who had attending asking a question to which I had no simple answer.  I am going to present the question here in his words, with his permission, and  we both welcome opinions and discussion from all of you.

So the question is….

I have a real life question on copyright as it applies to photographs.

During a recent vacation, I handed my camera to a random gentleman whom I asked to take my photo. The photo he took with my camera is SUPERB!!! The question is…Who owns the copyright? I have the only .jpg file of the photo, yet someone (whom I cannot identify) took the photo. If he is the copyright owner, I cannot enter the photo in any contest or publish it in a book of my photos.  (G. Shull)

Watch the blog next week for the conclusion Gary reached.  Will it agree with yours?



Filed under Copyright, Ethics, Genealogy

3 responses to “Who holds the copyright?

  1. That sounds like a really tough issue especially since the photographer is unknown and honestly probably wouldn’t even remember that he took the picture in the first place.

  2. And could this in some small way be considered “work for hire” although no money changed hands?
    I would still consider him as the creator, and not take credit for it as my own.

  3. That’s difficult. From a practical standpoint, I would say that when a stranger agrees to take a picture using your camera, that stranger is effectively waiving any right to claim ownership of the photo later… however, I have no idea how the law would view this.


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