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Can I Take a Picture of Something in a Store/Business and Use It on My Website?

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Joe EscalanteHi Joe,

Walking into a business, can I just take a picture of something and use it on my website or do I need to speak to the owner first? (I know the deal with faces.)


Max Walter


Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

Yes and no. They might have a posted policy preventing that. Is the policy enforceable in court? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on many other factors. In general, without any posted policy or warning, the store is open to the public and you, so you could use the picture for certain things.

What would be their damages is the question. It’s all stuff visible to any member of the public at all times that the store is open, so what difference does it make if you show it to them?

However, if you took a picture of copyrighted things and exploited them in a way that harmed the copyright’s value, you could be liable for infringement. Like if you took a picture of original art and charged people to look at those pictures on your site, that’s infringement.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.


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June 23rd, 2014 at 10:05 am