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chriskef 12-03-2006 07:41 AM

Permission required to use boat photos?

I'm about to buy a Beneteau 393, 2001, and want to offer it for bareboat and instruction. As part of my website I will need photos and plans. I wondered where you can get photos of this boat and whether or not they are free or require permission? I noticed alot of companies using standard Beneteau photos on their sites and wonder if they had to get permission to use them.

Many thanks,


sailingdog 12-03-2006 09:24 AM

You should be able to use them for free, without permission, provided the website is not commercial in nature. It is a permission granted under the "fair use" clause of the 1978 Copyright Act, at least here in the United States. If you were using them commercially, you would probably need permission. As I am not a lawyer, you may want to check over this with an attorney... YMMV.

hellosailor 12-03-2006 02:45 PM

SD, "fair use" is actually rather specific and I can't think of it being applied in this case. "Fair use" means that if you want to rave about a book you just read, you can post a couple of lines from it without asking permission. And, a batch more specific instances.

But when it comes to copyrighted IMAGES...taking someone else's image and using it for your own commercial purposes is simply illegal. (In the US and the other Berne signatories.) Just because something is on the web, does not mean it can be used. Just because you buy a boat, doesn't allow you to use the pix that the manufacturer uses in their brochures. Again, especially not for commercial purposes. Since his question is about using the images for his BOAT CHARTER BUSINESS...this is a commercial copyright question.

It is way safer to ask permission from the image owner, than to steal the images. (Especially when commerce and profit are involved.<G>)

An attorney can be a good idea...but the rules and explanations of them are all on the Copyright Office web site, they were one of the first federal agencies to make real good use of the Internet.

sailingdog 12-03-2006 03:48 PM


My bad...I missed the significance of the bareboat and instruction in the first line of the OP. In the case of this being for a commercial site, permission is definitely required.

pigslo 12-03-2006 04:03 PM

Why not post pictures of the actual charter boat. You won't misrepresent what you are offering that way.

SailorMitch 12-03-2006 04:50 PM

a) I'm with Pig. Why not show pics of your boat? Otherwise, you should add "sistership" to the photos you use -- which would raise a red flag with me as a potential charterer. I always love seeing that line in brokerage ads.

b) Check with the Bene PR people for images to use. They probably will cooperate.

sailingdog 12-03-2006 07:25 PM

Hey mitch-

Where'd you get the image of the Thomas Point Lighthouse?

SailorMitch 12-03-2006 07:47 PM

Where do you think I got it from?

Originally Posted by sailingdog
Hey mitch-

Where'd you get the image of the Thomas Point Lighthouse?

Took it myself.

ianhlnd 12-04-2006 07:23 AM

Hey, look, I'm not a lawyer either, and questions of copyright come up all the time in my profession (photographer), generally, identifiable landmarks, buildings, people, cars, etc., etc. are copyrighted by the creator of that work. Note the key word is identifiable.. Consequently, should I take a picture of a vintage auto, I could not identify it as let's say in the case of a car as a Ford, rather a "vintage auto," and all identifying marks, trademarks etc would have to be removed. In your case, if you had a representative photo of your or a similar boat, and photoshopped out the logos, and sail numbers, you could use it and caption it with the boats name. In the text of your message which is now editorial, you can identify it as a Beneteau 393. Lets face it, go through any sailing magazine and look at all the ads in the back, the brokers didn't get copyright permission for all their ads, and Beneteau wouldn't have enough lawyers to pursue all infringements.

In the case of the owner of the photograph itself, that is a different question. The copyright of the photo belongs to the taker of that picture. Suggest you try some of the stock sites,, or others, and you can buy royalty free photographs for a couple bucks.

Hope that can help you out, again, there's a lot of gray area in the copyright laws, but it's always best to be safe.

hellosailor 12-04-2006 04:41 PM

"In your case, if you had a representative photo of your or a similar boat, and photoshopped out the logos, and sail numbers, you could use it and caption it with the boats name." Actually that's quite dangerous. A major newspaper got caught a couple of years ago when a staff artist "reinterpreted" a piece of someone else's work as part of a composite photo-illustration. IIRC they took a hand (literally) from a full-sized work and did some heavy manipulation on it, so the result was very different from the original full work. They wound up paying six figures for that work.
If the author can recognize enough of their work to say "That's from my work" you are at the mercy of a jury, and you'll have to pay legal costs on top of that, win or lose.

I don't find much gray area in the copyright laws, but that's also because I'm trying to read them simply--not looking for weasel paths.<G>

"but it's always best to be safe." Gotta agree with you there! The intent of the Berne Convention (international copyright law) is pretty simple. Anything that isn't expressly permitted, is forbidden and belongs to the author. When you read the laws with that in mind, they become much simpler.

Only thing I haven't found a good reference to, is US public copyrights. That is, works of the US government belong to "the people". So those of us who are citizens own (share) them and can use them freely. But I can't figure if that means a Brit or any other NON-citizen can use them without permission. The Copyright Office doesn't get that explicit on their web site.<G>

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