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NYC Landmark Limits Ownership of Pictures

New York City Landmark Limits Photographers’ Rights

Hudson Yards, located on the West side of New York City, is the largest private real estate development in the United States. One of its most popular features is a 16-story open-air building called Vessel. Vessel is described as a permanent, interactive art installation. The main attraction of Vessel is that it allows the public to walk up and capture beautiful views of New York City for free.

Jack Alexander, in a March 2019 article for, a self-described “community-based photography news website,” noted that by visiting Vessel you must agree to the terms and conditions. At the time, those terms included giving up all rights to the pictures you take while in the structure. The terms and conditions required visitors to “agree to hand over the copyright of any photos taken while there, and in doing so, permit the company to use the images royalty-free worldwide.”

Under US copyright law, the rights to a photograph belong to the person who takes it. Copyright is automatic. The photographer may license, grant permission, give away, charge a fee, or make an agreement to allow the reproduction, display, or use of the picture. While it is not uncommon to relinquish some rights when visiting a landmark, the level to which Hudson Yards took this, was met with pushback.

The Public Blasted Hudson Yards for Requiring Visitors to Relinquish Ownership of Photos

After an outcry by the public, Hudson Yards agreed to refine its policy and change the language to clarify its original intent. In a Bloomberg News report, a spokesperson related to Hudson Yards said: “The intent of the policy is to allow Hudson Yards to amplify and reshare photos already shared on individual social channels through our website and social channels.”

Under New Terms and Conditions, Visitors Retain Copyrights of Photographs

According to the new terms and conditions posted on the Hudson Yards Vessel website, photographers and the public are no longer agreeing to give up their copyrights. Instead, under a section titled “MY SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS,” picture-takers retain ownership of photographs, videos and recordings depicting or relating to Vessel “unless otherwise agreed to by me and the company.”

The terms also make visitors agree that:

“If I post any Vessel Content to any social media channel, I hereby grant to Company and its affiliates the right to re-post, share, publish, promote and distribute the Vessel Media via such social media channel and via websites associated with the Vessel or Hudson Yards (including my name, voice and likeness and any other aspects of my persona as depicted in the Vessel Media), in perpetuity. I understand that I will not be entitled to any compensation from.”

These new terms became effective on July 1, 2019.

By taking photos while visiting Vessel, you are still giving away some of your rights; you are giving the company permission to post, publish, share, promote and distribute your pictures and videos without compensation if you:

  • Take the photos from Vessel
  • Put them on social media

Does Taking Pictures OF Vessel Present Copyright Problems?

Taking pictures of Vessel from the street means you did not get a ticket to visit the structure. Without a ticket, you have not agreed to its terms and conditions. Does this mean you retain full control over your images? Perhaps not. If Vessel truly is an art installation, the creator of Vessel may have a copyright claim. This is something to consider when photographing various landmarks, pieces of art, and other objects.

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If you are a photographer with a copyright issue, call Sanders Law Group today. We have experienced copyright attorneys representing photographers across the globe in all types of copyright matters.

Call us at 888-348-3090 for a free evaluation of your copyright case.


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