BIG AIR PHOTO VIDEO "USAGE AND COPYRIGHT" POLICY
TERMS AND CONDITIONS (for Realtors, Brokers, and other agents)
Photographer retains copyrights of all work products (images, virtual tours, and videos).
Agents that hire Big Air for real estate photography get limited use the work products in perpetuity. These usage rights are based on a strategy that starts as an exclusive license and shifts to a non-exclusive license if and when the house is sold or the seller's contract is terminated.
In other words, agents are granted exclusive limited use of delivered work products (and derivatives) to assist in the sale or rental of the property, and for other promotional purposes. But, such exclusive use is limited to the time period when the agent is in contract with the seller.
If and when the agent no longer represents the seller, usage rights become non-exclusive, and remain that way in perpetuity. For example, after the house is sold or the seller's contract is terminated, the agent may continue to use the images (for example, on websites or marketing collateral). However, these same images would then be available for another agent to use (if the new agent is in contract with the seller, and with the express permission of the photographer who owns the images). This new contract with the new agent is non-exclusive since the first agent can continue to use the images for promotion. The granting of limited usage rights to the new agent may involve a transfer fee granted to the photographer.
The agents who have these exclusive or non-exclusive rights are not permitted to sell these images, and cannot transfer these rights to another party. The only exception to this is that the agent is permitted to transfer usage rights to services such as MLS and other realtor sites for the sole purpose of marketing specific properties for sale or rent.
Since the photographer owns the photo copyrights, he or she is permitted to use the images for any purpose and can sell or transfer usage rights to any other party.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q. If a realtor pays a photographer to take photos, shouldn't the realtor then own the images, and fully control their use?
A. No, copyright law recognizes photos as "original works of authorship". It grants copyright ownership to the photographer. Copyrights are only transferred to the realtor if this transfer is specified in a written and signed contract. Most photographers hold onto their copyrights because photos may have significant future value for the photographer.
Q. How does Big Air's exclusive/non-exclusive rights strategy work?
A. When the realtor initially contracts for the images, he or she gets exclusive rights to the images so no other agents can use them (except through affiliate sites). When the property is sold, or the seller's contract is terminated, then the photographer is free to assign usage rights to another agent (if the property is under contract with that new agent). The first agent may continue to use the images (in promotions, web sites, etc.) but (since he then has non-exclusive rights) he will share these rights with the new agent. The new agent would also have non-exclusive rights.
Q. If a seller chooses to change to a second agent, does that agent pay for the existing images?
A. Yes, the photographer charges the agent a setup and usage fee that includes transferring and storing image files and account information. The first agent does not receive compensation, although he or she can still use the images for promotion.
Q. Can a realtor request the transfer of copyright ownership from the photographer to the realtor, so only the realtor can control usage rights?
A. Yes, contact the photographer to get an estimate for that transfer.