PropertyProf Blog

Editor: Stephen Clowney
Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Usain Bolt Swipes Camera & Takes Pics. Who Owns the Photos?

Picture 1

After winning the 200-meters at the Olympics, Usain Bolt jokingly snatched a Swedish photographer’ camera and took pictures of Yohan Blake, the 200-meter silver medalist, as he preened around the track. After Bolt returned the camera, the Swedish photographer uploaded Bolt's pictures on his newspaper's website.  This raised a fun legal issue: Does Bolt own the shots, did so Swedes have the right to publish them? 

According to Slate, Bolt is the rightful owner: "Under most countries' intellectual property laws, including the United Kingdom’s, the person who actually pushed the button owns the photograph, unless the work was made for hire. That means Wixtröm technically does not own the copyright to Bolt’s photos, unless he and the sprinter negotiated a rights transfer in writing. This legal technicality also means that tourists in London who ask a passerby to take a photo of them would not own the copyright to the resulting photograph, though it is doubtful their use of the work would ever be contested. (According to Carolyn E. Wright’s Photo Attorney blog, in that case you would “likely have an implied license to use the photograph for personal uses. … But you probably wouldn’t have the right to enter the photo into a contest or license it for commercial purposes.”)"

Steve Clowney

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/property/2012/08/usain-bolt-swipes-camera-takes-pics-who-owns-the-photos.html

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