Jim in New Mexico asks the following question:
I recently shot a home for a new broker who just got the listing. Since I photographed the same home 1 year ago for another broker and the previous seller, I felt compelled to use some of the previous summer season shots of the yards. All interior shots were new. I received an email from the old broker telling me the old seller is demanding I immediately take down the photos because 1. they are hers; 2. the pics contain their outdoor furniture and art; 3. it is false advertising.
I am really concerned about number 2: the fact that the photos contain the old sellers property (nothing valuable) and using them for the new MLS listing. Am I in the right to use them for the new agent with the old sellers stuff?
First, this situation suggests that you need to be explaining photo licensing better to your clients. That is, your clients need to understand that photos are not theirs. You own the rights to the photos and you simply license them to use the photos for marketing for the duration of their listing.
I'm not an attorney and I don't give legal advice but you are probably completely legal reusing the summer photos as you've done. The previous listing agreement and your agreement with the previous listing agent gave you permission to shoot their lawn furniture and you own the copyright. But it's not worth the time, energy, or money to legally prove you are RIGHT. Better to retain good relations with clients.
I would take down the photos so the previous seller is not upset and move on. But I would explain your photo licensing agreement to the previous client. You do have a photo licensing agreement, don't you?