Old 04-13-2010, 05:21 PM   #1
matth
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Default Selling Photos of UP trains

I recently received an offer from a consulting firm to purchase one of my photos for use in corporate reports and presentations. The only fly in the ointment is that the photo is of a Union Pacific train. Given UP's recent obsession with protecting their precious trademarked logos, I am a little concerned about getting caught in UP's legal crosshairs if I decided to sell the photo to a private company that will use the photo to make more money. Has anyone else out there dealt with this issue?
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Old 04-13-2010, 06:29 PM   #2
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Technically, the client would be liable for any use which infringes upon UP's copyright, not you. Of course, it's probably not a good business practice to hide such a concern from the client, and it also doesn't mean UP wouldn't pursue you in a way which could cost you distress and money. If they are a big client, perhaps they have the connections to be more likely to request and get proper permission from UP. I haven't dealt with this particular issue yet, I'm curious to hear others' experiences.
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Old 04-13-2010, 06:37 PM   #3
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Hi Matt,

I don't know how much ground UP has to stand on. As long as you took the shot from a public place, it would be very difficult for UP to win a court battle regarding what you did with the photo. UP's logo is their property. If you used THE LOGO on something they never intended to put it on, then yes, I could see some grounds for a challenge. But yours is a photo of their train....something for which their logo was designed. It was something that was visible in public and you were within your rights to take the picture.

Now, could they file a frivolous lawsuit against you, knowing full well they'd lose if you had the resources to fight it? Sure, they could elect to harass you in that way. Fortunately, most corporations aren't that stupid. They know you could run to the local Eyewitness News Station and their reporters would have a field day at the expensive of UP's public relations. I don't know UP, but most companies would prefer the free publicity that your picture would provide.

Think Goodyear would be upset if I sold a picture of one of their blimps to a calendar? Hell no. That's why they never fly the thing above 1000 ft. They WANT you to get a good look at it.

I'll be interested in what some of the other folks say about UP. I shoot only steam tourist lines, and my experience has been that they're glad to get any publicity that I or any other photog is willing to give them.
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Old 04-13-2010, 06:49 PM   #4
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As long as the logos are removed or out of sight they should be fine. I would sell it to them as is. Stock photo companies will not accept any photos where any branding or any person can be recognized by any features even clothing. This doesn't matter if taken from public property or not unless you have model releases. For the purpose you have just sell it as is and they will do what they need to do to the photo.
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Old 04-13-2010, 07:06 PM   #5
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I have noticed in a lot of railroad trade publication ads photos of locomotives that obviously belong to UP, BNSF, etc. where the logos and lettering have been carefully removed. Seems rather silly to me, but I always figured that there must have been some legitimate (i.e., legal) reason for the advertisers to go thru all that additional work.
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Old 04-13-2010, 07:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matth View Post
I recently received an offer from a consulting firm to purchase one of my photos for use in corporate reports and presentations. The only fly in the ointment is that the photo is of a Union Pacific train. Given UP's recent obsession with protecting their precious trademarked logos, I am a little concerned about getting caught in UP's legal crosshairs if I decided to sell the photo to a private company that will use the photo to make more money. Has anyone else out there dealt with this issue?
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinM View Post
UP's logo is their property. If you used THE LOGO on something they never intended to put it on, then yes, I could see some grounds for a challenge. But yours is a photo of their train...

Nail, meet head.

The only UP-initiated lawsuit I'm aware of was filed because someone was creating and selling a calendar of UP photos. UP's objection was about the unlicensed use of the 'word mark' "Union Pacific" as part of the calendar title, not the photos containing images of UP's marks.
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Old 04-13-2010, 08:05 PM   #7
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You can't copyright a train.
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Old 04-13-2010, 08:41 PM   #8
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UP's lawyers had a field day bulling the mostly small railroad hobby manufacturers for using their logo. Athearn, even Lionel had to pony up big bucks to settle the lawsuits.

They hadn't counted on a man whose name matches his strength. That man was Mike Wolf, founder of model train company MTH.

No way was Mike going to knuckle under to the UP bullying. The lawsuit was settled with not only MTH winning but with Mike doing a service for the whole hobby by sending the UP home to Omaha with it's tail between it's legs.

A big fat back eye for UP's public relations.

http://www.toytrains1.com/blog/?p=4
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Old 04-13-2010, 08:50 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info and the link Dennis. I didn't realize that UP's stranglehold on the model railroad industry had been broken. Kudos indeed to Mike Wolf and MTH!
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Old 04-13-2010, 09:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
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I recently received an offer from a consulting firm to purchase one of my photos for use in corporate reports and presentations. The only fly in the ointment is that the photo is of a Union Pacific train. Given UP's recent obsession with protecting their precious trademarked logos, I am a little concerned about getting caught in UP's legal crosshairs if I decided to sell the photo to a private company that will use the photo to make more money. Has anyone else out there dealt with this issue?
I had the same thing happen a few years ago, and it was a UP train also, they wanted to use it in a yearly report for some company and wanted to know what I wanted, which I just told them credits for the photo and a copy of the report, she thought that was great, but them about a month later they sent me a notice saying they were not going to use it.
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Old 04-14-2010, 01:34 AM   #11
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Here's a little trick...next time when someone tells you they would like to use your photo, ask "what's your budget like?"
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Old 04-14-2010, 01:45 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matth View Post
I have noticed in a lot of railroad trade publication ads photos of locomotives that obviously belong to UP, BNSF, etc. where the logos and lettering have been carefully removed. Seems rather silly to me, but I always figured that there must have been some legitimate (i.e., legal) reason for the advertisers to go thru all that additional work.
Probably not much additional work to a professional photoshop artist. (man, talk about a great gig)
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