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Question about retouching labels

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  #1  
Old 10-11-2009, 03:06 PM
sammayell sammayell is offline
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Question about retouching labels

Hi

Quick question
Working on my retouching portfolio currently and decided I need to include some product shoots.

The question I have is this.
My portfolio is going to be online so can I include edits the I have done personally of labeled products like MAC cosmetics or Clinique?

Or can I only use product edits of stuff like fruit or an unlabeled bottle etc to avoid copy-write?

Cheers
Sam
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  #2  
Old 10-11-2009, 07:34 PM
Sinisa Sinisa is offline
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Re: Question about retouching labels

i don't think you can associate yourself with products or brands if you haven't been hired by these to do the work.
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Old 10-11-2009, 08:09 PM
ShadowLight ShadowLight is offline
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Re: Question about retouching labels

I should probably take out my business law textbooks and refresh a few things... but since there is still no "universal law" it would really depend on which country you are in.


It could probably pass under "fair use" doctrine as it just showcases your abilities in photography/retouching.

Yet you should check this with a lawyer that specializes in that field in your own country.

if you take anyone's advice here even if you trust their intentions, be careful as (copyright) laws differ from country to country
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Old 10-11-2009, 10:44 PM
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seattle-light seattle-light is offline
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Re: Question about retouching labels

Hey Sammayell...

Not a legal opinion by any means, but if it's product packaging and you worked on the retouching... I think that you don't need to worry too much about MAC or Clinique coming after you. Provided that it looks fabulous afterward and wasn't too bad before.

You of course need to get clearance from the photographer (or copyright holder) to use the photograph (and specifically to show it in a before and after format). But even if you can only show it in a finished state, it may serve you well to show your product retouching skills. Sometimes people don't need to see befores. I know many retouchers who only show finished work (which also helps keep from embarassing their photographer clients).

If MAC or Clinique comes after you threatening legal action, then you just take it down. But I imagine they have more important things to do than worry about their product jar being on your web page. Unless you're showing it in a way that's going to embarrass them.

If there is a model in the image, it gets more complicated as the model and modeling agency might have a strong legal argument against your using the model's likeness for your own promotional purposes without permission or compensation and showing it in a before and after format that might not be particularly flattering to the model.

Hope this helps.

Take care. Alan.
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Old 10-12-2009, 01:05 AM
Andrew Lawrence Andrew Lawrence is offline
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Re: Question about retouching labels

I remember someone saying that this is something that people often do. Like some one else said, as long as you don't put it in a context that embarrasses the company, they probably wont go after you. This still might not be legal (check with a intellectual properties lawyer) or moral.

I know I've seen ad campaigns on photographer's sites before that I said "yeah right" because it completely missed the mark of what the brand should feel like.

On another note, it's not uncommon for a great wedding photographer to set aside a day to hire professional models and makeup artists for some fake wedding day photographs. Fact is: professional models under controlled lighting might look more impressive than your average couple getting married.
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:07 AM
sammayell sammayell is offline
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Re: Question about retouching labels

Hey Guys

Thanks for all the quick responses!
I think the plan of attack is going to be to do some awesome edits.
Doing some MAC cosmetic stuff at the moment which I think I will put in the online portfolio and I guess I will just see what happens.
Worst case scenario being i will have to take them off and if thats the case I'll be sure to let you guys know

Cheers
Sam
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  #7  
Old 10-12-2009, 11:24 AM
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seattle-light seattle-light is offline
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Re: Question about retouching labels

If you make their products look great, then they shouldn't have a problem with it. If they do, put up another brand's products. Your site will probably not be seen enough to really be on their radar.

Unless you're doing it with malice or to inflict harm to their brand or to imply that they endorse you, they should be flattered. All they can do is ask you to take it down as an unauthorized commercial use of a likeness of their product. If you continue to use the image after they've asked you to stop, then they may have a legal case against you. And while they might not have a strong case, it's generally better to avoid legal conflict with well-funded corporations. So walk away and promote their competition. If they dislike your retouching enough to not let it live on your low-traffic web site, then they'll never be your client anyway.

Some brands are more protective of the use of their product images than others. The problem for the brand is that if they let 100 people get away with using an image of their product and then they don't like what one person does, then they've already lost control over the use of their image. They either have to aggressively protect their brand or lose control over it. They can't selectively protect their brand image.

If you're doing things that are just for your portfolio, then make sure that they are as high quality as would be demanded by that client in the real world. You can't show retouching on a Coca-Cola bottle that doesn't look world class (and Coke is one of those brands that has incredibly tight control over its image). And you can't do a mock Absolut Vodka setup that doesn't look as good as everything else in their campaigns.

If you're doing a portfolio piece, you better be prepared for questions. Did you work for MAC or Clinique? As a retoucher, you can probably hide behind the photographer and say that you were hired by or worked with Jeff Johnson on a whole series of images for Clinique. Find a couple of really good up and coming product photographers to work with on portfolio projects. That way you're building two portfolios at once and developing working relationships.

You have to show your skills in order to get work. And then as they grow as product photographers, they'll likely turn to you for their retouching. If they're getting work based on the portfolio stuff you did together, then they'll want to keep together that winning team (at least until they find someone better). But successful relationships are important in this business.
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