Can a non-conditional GIFT of a license to use a digital photo be rescinded, or is it permanent?

Asked 12 months ago - Iowa City, IA

Say I take a digital photo. I then tell somebody (let's say in writing) that they can use it for whatever they want, free of charge. I offer no time period for this offer or any strings attached. I ask for and receive nothing of value in return. I then deliver them an electronic copy of the image.

Is this license a permanent gift? Or can I rescind the license to use my photo later if/when I change my mind? I know that if I offer somebody, say, a horse and they accept delivery of it, then it is theirs, but does the same hold true for a usage license?

Does the answer to this question change if I offer to give them my copyright to the image as well, not just a license to use it?

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Pamela Koslyn

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Your gift of a photo would probably be presumed to be permanent and non-revocable, since you gave it with no strings. Even if you could revoke it, it would never be less than a non-exclusive license to the person you gave it to.

    A copyright can only be transferred in writing, so if you transferred that as well as the copy of the photo itself in writing, I don't think that would be revocable either, even if you somehow claimed you could revoke it. If you transferred a copyright orally, that would probably be considered a non-exclusive license.

    Why am I using the word "probably"? Because legal analyses always depend on the situation's specific facts, and here your facts seem hypothetical and unclear.

    Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to... more

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