NSW Intellectual Property Law - Who Owns Photograph Rights?

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29 June 2016
I work as a lingerie waitress. My boss got me to sign a contract stating that I have to pay $300 for a professional photoshoot with a photographer in order to work for her company and that she would then own those photos. The contract outlined that I would get a copy of the photos with her watermark on them and that I was not to give these photos to any other companies.

The photographer did not work for her. He had his own private business, however, she liked his photography style and wanted all her employees to have photos done specifically with him.

When the photoshoot was over, I asked the photographer if he would mind doing some extra photos for my personal portfolio for extra money. He said that he was happy to take some extra photos free of charge because he enjoyed working with me. I wore a different outfit and there was a different backdrop and props used to distinguish from the photoshoot she had arranged.

She received all the photos done for her shoot directly with her watermark on them, and I received the photos from the shoot I arranged directly without a watermark.

She has since seen the other photos that I arranged independently on other companies websites. She refers to them as "her photos" and has threatened legal action as she believes I acted in breach of the contract and wants to put her own watermark on the photos I arranged to have taken separately.

There was nothing in the contract stating that I could not arrange my own photoshoot with this particular photographer. She has said that she would be happy for me to go back to him for another shoot if I paid full price.

The arrangement I made with the photographer was made after her photoshoot was completed so it did not in any way impact upon to quality or amount of photos that she received.

She has asked me to ask other companies not to use the photos I had arranged personally. Do I have any legal obligation to abide by her request under intellectual property law?


Well-Known Member
8 November 2015
Hi Elena

From the information you have provided, you have no legal obligation to abide by your employer's request 'that you ask other companies not to use the photos you personally arranged'.

The only exception would be that a clause or term exists in writing in the contract, is signed by yourself & your employer & gives rise to an obligation by you as an employee not to have photos taken or displayed for the personal uses that you mention. It may read something like - 'no employee's photos taken/shot for reasons not related to employment with the said employer are to be used for any exclusive or personal use by the employee, for an employee's personal portfolio or other personal use outside of employment with the employer in question'.

On the information you have provided, I cannot see that a breach by has occurred.


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