Several years ago, before I started selling my work commercially, I took some pictures of a local roller coaster. This is at a local amusement park, which is privately owned. It does not charge a fee to come on the property, and people wander around freely in the park.
There is a charge to ride the roller coaster, of course.
All my photos are of local places. That is their attraction and marketability. There are no contemporary photos of our area, only historic ones, also some nice arial ones made tacky with huge touristy words emblazoned across the photos.
I don't know whether I need to seek permission from these people in order to market and sell my photo of their roller coaster. By way of comparison:
There is a local garden where permission is definitely required. In fact, there are dignified signs at the entrance which say nobody can bring in a tripod, without signed permission from the administrators of the garden! But before I talk about how that worked out -- really well -- here's a weirdo about another amusement park.
This other amusement park situation was a real hassle. In that case, it was the annual festival sponsored by the City. They have a name for the festival, and they hired a bunch of rides -- you know, tilt-a-whirl, ferris wheel, drive-through fun house, bumper cars, kids' rides, skill pitch games where you win huge stuffed animals -- it's a great place to wander around and people-watch, and do a few of the rides. Anyway, I stood OUTSIDE the amusement area, because it costs to go inside. I went up on a bridge, and got a great shot of the ferris wheel.
Then, a while later on, I called the administrators of the festival -- not to get permision, but only to find out what the exact week was, each year, that the festival happened, so that I could post that on my website. Hoo boy! The fur started hitting the fan with those people! They told me I could not even use the picture of "their" ferris wheel at all!
I felt certain this was untrue, so I checked around and got some free legal advice, had some pleasant but forceful conversations and letters back and forth with them. They went to their legal advisors, too, and it ended up that they told me I could "not use the name of the festival." So I just had to call it the "Summer Waterfront Festival," instead of giving it the well-known name it has. Even though it's sponsored by, and given some funding by the City.
Here's the situation reg arding the privately owned, city sponsored garden. My situation there was much the same as with the roller coaster that I'm trying to figure out now.
I had some very nice shots of the garden, taken before I decided to go commercial. So I took them to the President of the Board. She loved them! She very apologetically said that because it was in their bylaws that a fee must be charged for anyone to sell photos of the garden, she must therefore charge me a fee. (The fee amount was not specified in the bylaws, she said.) She asked me if I could afford a $25.00 one-time permission fee? And I said of course, I would not mind at all.
She said I could use my photos any time, for any reason. I told her I would clear any photo with her, before I used it.
Now: the amusement park where the roller coaster is, has no such signages. But I have a library book, which I plan to buy my own copy of, entitled: **Fair Use, Free Use, and Use By Permission: How to Handle Copyrights in All Media,** by Lee Wilson, attorney. On p. 13 it says, in part: "[y]ou can take pictues of buildings...from any point where you can legally stand (i.e. without trespassing on private property). .... t is dangerous to use a commercial building....in an ad without permission from the owners of the property, since any such use arguably creates an association between the business housed in the commercial building ....And remember that photos taken in any private setting are subject to far more restrictions on u se. Private-setting photos can easily lead to invasion-of-privacy lawsuits unless permission to take and publish them is obtained in advance. When in doubt, get permisson. Otherwise you may end up with a beautiful photo that you cannot display or publish because you fear a lawsuit. ...An ounce of prevention is preferable to a complaint in a lawsuit any day."
I do not know whether the above would apply to a roller coaster in an amusement park. Haven't read the entire book yet.
Anyone have any experience with selling amusement park photos (that don't include recognizable people)?