Who Owns These Photos?

Hi oz-braintrust,

I had this discussion with my workmate and we both saw the situation in a very different light.
Im hoping some of you has experience in this field or knows the answers to these questions.

I am a tradie (employee of a company, not a subcontractor) and install certain kinds of products at customers homes.

I usually take photos of the finished jobs.

And the questions we had were:

  1. Do these photos belong to me or my employer if Im the one installing them and taking the photos with my own phone, although i work for a company?

  2. Can my employer demand me to send them to them?

  3. If i were to start my own business, can i use these photos on my website (i installed and i took the photo)?



  • Wardrobes?

  • +3 votes


    Jokes aside.

    I believe if you took them due to your work, they are your employer’s Intellectual Property. I’m not sure if there are any laws on it, maybe someone else can shed a light on the legalities.

  • It may specify this in your employment contract. Or perhaps it’s been verbally communicated?

    If not, I would say they’re yours. Though you may need permission from the clients that engaged the company to do the work.

  • If your employer hasn't asked you to take the photos of the finished jobs or provided the phone to do so, then they are your photos.

  • I would use the macaque test case.

  • Not sure you can use them as examples of your work if you start your own business. If yo work or a large business they may have an issue. small ones may be ok with it.

    are you using your own tools to do these jobs?

  • Anything you make while working for the company you cant use to promote your business

    • This is pretty much on the money, with a few minor caveats. Unless you did absolutely everything yourself (including sourcing and buying all the materials, planning/logistics, etc.), it could be convincingly argued in any legal context that you representing a photo of the finished product as exclusively your work—when in fact the aforementioned things were done by others/your current employer—is blatantly misleading.

    • Excerpt from https://www.gotocourt.com.au/civil-law/intellectual-property...

      The general rule is that any intellectual property created during employment is owned by the employer. This rule is found under section 35(6) of the Copyright Act.

      For something created during employment to be copyrightable and owned by the employer, the following must be satisfied:

      • The creator is an employee; and
      • The intellectual property was created during employment.

      That said, it's probably only going to be an issue if your current employer finds out. But they probably will if you are starting a rival company, right?

      Maybe don't put the photos on your public website or social media, but you could still send directly to prospective clients and get away with it. Might get away with printed flyers too.

      Also, ownership of copyright and intellectual property might not be be the only considerations. As others mentioned there could be issues with breach of contract or false and misleading advertising.

    • Why not politicians do it all the time lol

  • Who owns the camera? At what time are the images taken e.g. on the clock or off?

  • Employers! As you won’t be able to take any of those photos if you were not there by the instructions of your employer.

  • Oooh! A tricky one.

    If you're on the employer's clock, installing a product supplied by an employer, then it's a fair argument to say that the photos contain the employer's intellectual property. Whether your own volition or not, it's a reasonable assumption that they are not for personal use and therefore are for business use.

    Just because you took the photos, and are in possession of the photos, doesn't automatically grant you the right to utilise those photos (simliar to pics of other people's kids; you have to get permission to share. You also can't state "Here's some examples of my work" when it isn't your product, and it isn't your labour (when that labour was already paid by your employer).

    Your employer, however, cannot demand copies of them from your personal phone; THEY don't automatically get rights to use the pictures either unless it's previously agreed to or part of your normal work routine to send work pictures and you're now refusing etc.

    Basically, you've got dead photos that neither party can use if you don't both agree. Solution? Get different photos with no inherent bias/arm's length issues etc. Install your own cabinets/roof/whatever you do at your own cost, and take fresh photos.

  • Do these photos belong to me or my employer if Im the one installing them and taking the photos with my own phone, although i work for a company?

    the photos are yours if you did them during you own time and equipment. And your employer has not asked you to take them

    Can my employer demand me to send them to them?

    if they're asked you to take photos using their equipment/during you work hours, yes

    If i were to start my own business, can i use these photos on my website (i installed and i took the photo)?

    yes and no.
    The photos are your, depending on how they were taken.
    But you need to ask for permission to use them ( customer who got the work done) and your employer if they're contracted you to take these photos. You employment agreement may state that any creative work belongs to the company that employed you.

  • You took the photos as an employee for work you were employed to do. They are work product, they belong to your employer.

  • The work done may be yours but the photos are of someone's property.
    IMO the property owner has first say.
    If they give permission for them to be used then they are the property of your employer.

  • To avoid conflict of interest there needs to be sufficient period where you use the photos for your business and when the photos were taken. Most cases it’s 12 months clause to not engage in competitive activity.

  • Intellectual Rights and Legal ramifications abound here, hypothetically.

    You are paid by the company as an employee, and the customer paid the company for their products and services, regardless who installs them, and regardless if you used your tools or company tools. You are an a representative of your company, as they take all responsibility as well as all ownership of intellectual rights re photos and other examples etc.

    Any posting/advertising by the company of finished customer work is directly with customer approval and as such, you can not use them nor do you own them. You must have your loyalty to your company in the foremost as they have the customers privacy in their foremost thoughts.
    Any photos the company wants, should be on the company supplied device, unless you give permission for your phone to be used for said photos, and then for sending to the company.

    My question, do you have the customers knowledge and or permission to take photos of the installs inside or around their private homes? Is this with company approval?

    If you wanted to start your own business, ask for your employers permission to use such photos, as they would have already asked the customer for their permission. If not, do your own work, and that includes all the promo and sales work as well as install work, and then earn the right to take and use photos of your own work, again with the customers written permission.

    Plus, there are product manufacturers own photos of installed examples you could use for such promo purposes.

    I think your tradie mate wins.

    • Actually his thinking was that i can use these photos AFTER i have quit working for my employer.

      So, i guess we were both wrong

  • Assuming you took these because you do actually want to use them someday, not just a hypothetical question…

    You should present them as work you personally did at your previous company, so as not to be misleading.
    As for ownership, my contract at a software company is very clear the employer owns IP created at work.
    If you work for a small business installing shower screens or floorboards your contract might not mention it. I think in court your employer could probably get you to stop using them, but are they really going to sue you?
    Almost certainly not.

    In my experience, however, a lot of new trades businesses rely on overflow work from past employers and other contacts they have in the industry, so it pays to keep on good terms with people.

  • Thanks guys, i would have never thought to get so many replies and so many different opinions.

    Looks like i was in the wrong and i wont be using these photos for my own business, although im still not sure if i am obliged to share these photos with my employer.
    Seeing, how they run things, i doubt it has been mentioned in my contract, but will check it anyway.

    One thing i didnt even think of before was to ask the customers permission to use these photos (so far i habe only asked the permission to take these photos, bjt not specified the reason).

  • Do these photos belong to me or my employer if Im the one installing them and taking the photos with my own phone, although i work for a company?

    The company found you the work, paid for you to do the work on behalf of the company, supplied the materials for the work including the tools to complete the job. The company takes on ownership of the work you done and warranty of the work done.

    Who do you REALLY think 'owns' this work?

    Can my employer demand me to send them to them?

    They can ask you for a copy or ask you to delete them.

    If i were to start my own business, can i use these photos on my website (i installed and i took the photo)?

    As above, its not your product to be using as examples. Also will you be supplying/installing this same product?

    All work done during paid work hours normally becomes the property of the employer.

    So the products you installed, is not yours, but your employer. Which makes sense, as if there was an issue with the work, the customer will chase the company not you directly.

    You might be able to use a few photos for a short term to get going, but LONG TERM, no you should remove all other employer work examples.