Vail, CO Realtor and photographer John Nilsson recently used the new Lightroom 4 book creation feature to create a Blurb book that is a compilation of work the has done in the last four years for local Vail brokers. A nice piece of work John!
John posed the following legal questions:
First I want to be clear that I not a lawyer and am not giving legal advice, I'm just referring to advice given on this subject at ASMP.org (American Society of Media Photographers). Law in other countries may very. This reference only applies in the US and it may vary from state to state in the US. That is, I'm not sure if this question is settled at the state level applies outside the state.
Here is the reference that explains this issue that I'm basing the following on: Using Property Releases By Richard Weisgrau and Victor S. Perlman. Below is my summary of the reference.
There is no simple yes or no answer to the question of needing a property release. The ASMP has never seen a statute or a legal case that requires a release for property and although there are theories on why someone might file a suit for publishing and/or selling a photo of their home without their explicit permission (association or conversion as explained in the reference) the authors know of no case that has ever settled those kinds of questions. The ASMP advises that property releases be acquired whenever possible because they don’t want to see you be the test case.
For the full detail be sure to read the complete reference carefully. John's first question relates to the concept of association, and his second one relates to conversion as explained in the reference.
In conclusion: Get a property release if you can but if you can't you're pretty safe since there has never been any case law that has settled the question of whether you really need a release.
As usual we would all like to hear other's experiences in this area.