June 30th, 2015
Carlos recently posed a question on photo licensing that I don’t think we’ve talked about. His question is as follows:
My niche is the vacation rental market, mainly condos and I have one main client which sends me the majority of my jobs.
I have become aware that the client rental management company may be sold or bought out by another group in the near future and I know the sale of the client company will also include my property images as well (I’m sure the client company assumes the images are theirs to include with the sale of the company).
I’m wondering what should happen with my images. Should I enforce copyright and ask for a fee to sell the images along with the sale of the rental management company, or should I just let it be to not ‘rock the boat’ since this client is the majority of my small business revenue and I’m confident they will continue using my as their photographer. My inclination is the first, but I’m a bit at a loss as how to approach the owner/broker.
I know the images are key to the rental business model especially since most people book a rental after viewing the property images on the web. Unfortunately, there is no written agreement as far as terms of service or copyright terms of the images between me and the client company (which is my fault for not defining). Since these images are for rental listings they are used for long lengths of time, sometimes years. I know as the photographer I hold copyright and only license the images, but without defined terms I don’t think the client company will see it this way. My question is how would you or other PFRE members approach this situation?
On another note, I’m about to raise my pricing and will include terms service and copyright terms more specific to rental properties vs. for sale properties… any thoughts on this would be appreciated from PFRE community. I’m also wondering what insights the PFRE community may have about pricing PFRE for sale properties vs. PFRE for rentals properties.
Great questions! I’ll bet there are a bunch of photographers out there that shoot for rental management companies that are just like Carlos and don’t have a licensing agreement unique for rentals. None of the following is legal advice. There are really two parts to this:
- What to do about transferring licensing to a new rental owner? Since you don’t have a licensing agreement with the current owner that is selling the rental property this is a great time to create a photo licensing agreement for rentals. The important issue is with the new owner. I would make it clear with the current owner that the photos are not his to give away. And you’ll want to negotiate with the new owner in such a way the you continue to get his photographic business in the future. Include some agreement for updating the properties. That is you could agree to charge less to license to the new owner photos that are already in use, than was charged to license to the original owner and include some level of updates to the properties. You need to build a solid relationship with the new owner.
- What is the license pricing for rentals compared to home sale? As far as how much to charge for rental photo licensing in general. My guess is perhaps several times what you would charge for, for sale licensing. Rental photos are always used for years while for sale photos are used some times for a year but usually much less time. It may be the same amount of time to shoot the photos but for a rental they are used many times longer and thus more valuable.
I recommended that Carlos contact an attorney to help guide him through these issues. What are others experiences with rental marketing photo licensing?