Selling zoo photos

June 26th, 2019
Just came across an article that you need permission to use photos for commercial use that have been taken at a zoo.
I was really enjoying loading photos up to Redbubble, EyeEm and Picfair but seems like you need permission for most things and was quite disappointed when I came across that need permission from a zoo to use images taken at the zoo. I love zoo photography and not expecting to really sell any so if I need to pay for a license to sell it really doesn’t seem worth it?
Do I just need to write to the zoos? Has anyone done this?
June 27th, 2019
@bizziebeeme Short answer is yes, if you plan to sell the photos, you should have in possession a "property release" from the zoo. In most cases, this can be a very simple written/email exchange. A quick message to the zoo that hey, I took some pictures at the zoo that you plan to sell, would they be willing to grant permission for you to do so?" Its usually a non-issue to get such 'property releases'. Particularly, if the compensation is anticipated to be relatively nominal, and if the location is not extraordinarily identifiable (i.e. signs or other objects in the image that clearly associate the image to the "property" - in this case, a zoo). In such scenarios there is usually no fee requested by the property owner. And actually, for properties that are not often photographed, they might not even be aware they could demand one or that you require their permission. However, if the image is anticipated to be part of a high-profile commercial use, then the property owner may be inclined to ask for compensation as part of a release. But usually, this is known before the image is made. Especially if you come on location/property with a crew, lights, cameras...clearly its a high-profile commercial probably need permission and permits in advance. This would include discussion regarding the use of resulting images and any additional compensation the property owner may require, etc.

Anyway, bottom line, if you plan to either sell the images, or allow the images to be used in any way that brings benefit to a party (either yourself, or the party you provided the images to), then that qualifies as "commercial use" and it's best to get permission in advance to use them in that manner. On the other hand, if its a very low profile commercial use, with nominal compensation or benefit to you and/or the parties using the images, then realistically it would probably be a non-issue. Even less likely if property itself is not remarkably identifiable in the image. In these instances, having a property release is more of a "better safe than sorry" situation.

Having said all that, if it's a "public" zoo (i.e. owned by public, not by any organization or corporation, etc), then no "property release" applies. You (with rare exception) may do as you wish with images taken on public property. As far as identifiable people in them, if used for commercial use, you might still require "model releases" from those people. But again, that ultimately would come down to details about the image and its use.
June 27th, 2019
@dbj_365 hi Thank you so much for your very detailed response, very much appreciated. I am quite a worrier and so want to do the right thing.
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