Can a photographer rescind permission?

I’m a musician and a friend took some photos at a few outdoor shows. The photos are of me and were given to me to use in promoting my music. Now this woman wants me to remove them from my website. The trouble I’m having is that these photos are all over my promotional items with comments and “likes.” They have become how people know my work so to say. If they were given to me to use for these purposes and now she decided to say I couldn’t use these photos of me does she have any right? PLEASE HELP!

Kari on May 2, 2012

Well what sort of friend is that?! Unfortunately yes, she does have a right, a copyright in fact. However, you may be able to use her photos without her permission for purposes of fair use. This may include non-profit website display. But “promotional items” could be commercial if you are selling the items or using the items to sell your music or events. Her legal recourse could be to sue you in federal court, which she may not choose to do. A better approach for both of you would be to work out some arrangement, in writing this time. You could offer her some links from your website, a credit line, or money. Failing that, a safe approach would be to commission some new photos. And get the permission in writing next time!

fair use, commercial

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