Broker Release Asks For Exclusive Licensing Of Property Photos

BecarefulA couple of days ago a real estate photographer on the east coast sent me a copy of a photo release that a real estate brokerage asked him to sign. Here is the first paragraph of the release:

I hereby assign to x, its agents, assigns or successors in interest my entire right, title and interest, if any, in and to photographic pictures/video (“Photos”) provided by me to x such that the Photos may be used in any and all publications, advertising, news media, video, internet and any other media hereafter devised. I waive any right to inspect and/or approve the finished advertising copy or other product incorporating the Photos.

An attorney advised the photographer that by signing this release he would be giving up all his rights to the images to the broker. Also, it could prohibit him from using those images on his website or in any promotional material for his business.

Has anyone else been asked to sign a release like this? I could be wrong, but my guess is that this release was created by a corporate lawyer that was over focused on protecting broker without understanding the interests and conventions of real estate photographers. The standard conventions of real estate photographers are:

  1. To license photos to their clients only for the duration of the specific listing in the photos, not to sell all rights to the client.
  2. Many real estate photographers also license the same photos they shoot for agents to other clients for various uses.
  3. Most real estate photographer also use the photos they license to agents for listings for marketing their own business.

So anyone who’s going to sign a release like this should be charging WAY more than you would if you were just licensed the photos to be used for the listing.

Update: I’ve confirmed that the broker involved here is looking only to cover what we would all consider the “Intended use” of the images so this situation is largely a non-issue as long as photographers are not afraid to speak with the client about it.

So the important lesson here is to agree on photo licensing up front and if ask to sign what looks like an unreasonable release talk to the client about it… it may not be what it appears.

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