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Can photographer post pictures of minor child online without permission from both parents?

Sacramento, CA |

My girlfriend signed contract with photographer to take pictures of our newborn baby. I did not sign and neither of us knew the photographer would then own right to photos taken. Photographer has posted pictures on facebook, and I am upset pictures of my newborn are now on internet. Is there anything that can be done?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Copyright law says the creator owns their work unless they agree to transfer ownership to someone else in writing (if an exclusive transfer), or unless their employer owns their work. So this photographer presumptively owns the photo they take and they only sell copies to their customers, unless there's a written contract that says otherwise.

    Both parents of a child don't need to consent, unless there's a custody agreement that limits the mother's right to make decisions for herself and her child.

    If your girlfriend didn't read the photographer's contract and realized that he owned the copyright to the photos, or maintained the right to use the photos for promotional purposes, that's why she or you should have hired a lawyer BEFORE signing any contract.

    You can try to buy the copyrights and negotiate something with the photographer, but the photographer's got all the cards in this game.

    Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.


  2. This is a good example of why you should never sign anything without reading it & asking questions if you do not understand. I would start by asking the photographer to take it down, he may be willing to take it down upon request in order to avoid any litigation and negative publicity.

    Please note, no attorney-client relationship is created by this response. Any answer or other information posted above is general in nature and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice. with a review of the full facts of the matter and further discussion. This posting does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the posting attorney, and you are urged to engage a qualified attorney who is licensed to practice in the relevant jurisdiction.


  3. Hire a lawyer and have them send a cease and desist letter; the photographer will see you mean business and will likely back down.

    This is not legal advice but a general comment on society based on a limited set of hypothetical circumstances. No one should act or refrain from acting based on these comments without seeking appropriately licensed legal or professional advice. The author disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on his comments.

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