As a professional photographer you take photos of a wide variety of subjects, from weddings, to commercial and corporate photography, to portraits. It is important to legally cover all sides of your business and be aware of what risks are out there for you.
As the saying goes, “knowledge is power” and by knowing the top reasons why photographers get sued, you are better equipped to avoid getting sued.
Top Reasons Photographers Get Sued
Breach of Contract
As a photographer you are aware of the importance of having a contract with your client. It is when this contract is breached, that there is an issue. There are two sides to a contract: your end and your client’s end. The possibility of being sued comes from your end. This possibility is increased for a few different reasons.
The first reason breach of contract could lead to you being sued is because you failed to deliver the photos on time or at all, which can stem from faulty or failed memory cards. The second reason is there was a variation in the agreed terms. An example of this would be if you were contracted to shoot a wedding for 6 hours but you only shot for 5.
A simple way to avoid legal actions is to have open communication with your client. Another way is to make sure you are holding up your end of the contract.
Trademark and Copyright Infringement
Trademark and copyright infringement are two big risks to be aware of. As a photographer you need to be aware of your own photos being used without your permission, but you also need to be aware of taking photos that contain items that can be copyrighted. An example of this would be a sculpture or painting in the background of a photo you took.
If you happen to take a photo containing someone else’s work, a good way to prevent legal action is to refer to the “fair use” qualifications. This allows you to have the copyrighted object in your photos as a way to parody, criticize, or comment on. Although, it is still a smart idea to ask permission before taking any photos that may contain someone else’s work.
When it comes to trademark infringement, it is important to be aware of any logos or trademarks in your photos. This can lead to you being sued if it causes any consumer confusion. Avoid this by making it very clear in your photos that you do not own any of the trademarks.
If you are a commercial photographer there are a few things that could lead to you being sued. If you take a photo of a man with a branded t-shirt and then use that photo for commercial purposes, you can be sued. However, if you take a photo of a man in a branded t-shirt and then use it for editorial purposes, you cannot be sued because you don’t need a model release form.
If you are a wedding photographer, you need to be aware of reasons why customers sue. A few reasons include, poor image quality, last-minute cancellation, lack of requested photos, etc. You can avoid these issues by clearly stating your terms and conditions in your contract with the customer.
How To Avoid Being Sued
Now it may seem like there are liabilities everywhere, but there are a few ways to protect your business from being sued.
- Have a written contract between you and your client that clearly states your terms and conditions.
- Make sure what you’re photographing doesn’t contain any copyright infringement.
- Keep a steady flow of communication with your clients.
- Research your shooting locations in case you need a permit.
Last but no least, make sure you protect your business with photography insurance. Full Frame offers general liability coverage to photography business owners. General liability coverage protects your business from the cost of third-party bodily injury and property damage claims. An example of these types of claims would be clients tripping and injuring themselves on your equipment, or your equipment getting damaged.
General liability can also protect against the cost of copyright infringement claims and personal and advertising injury claims.
Learn more about the different types of coverage Full Frame Insurance offers here.
Protect Your Business Today
Now that you know the different ways photographers can get sued, you can help protect your business and prevent those risks as you run your business. Now, go that extra mile by protecting your business with photography insurance and insure your business today!