The other day, I received a question from one of my readers: “As an employee, if I took photos of the factory I work in, can I use them or publish them on a web-site?”
The answer depends on a lot of different things, but the short version of the answer would be “Maybe, but not without asking first”
In some circumstances, the place you work may be working on top secret things: If you work in a printers’ house, for example, and you happen to publish photos in which the front page of a big-name magazine is visible – even in the background, this could cause problems.
Your job contract may have something in it about disclosure, and you may be prohibited from taking photos, or publishing them, by a tiny little sub clause in the contract.
In practice, you are on private land, and would have to seek permission from the land owner to take photos and to publish them. Without going into too much detail, I would probably say that sticking to what your rights are and what the law says isn’t sufficient in this case:
Most importantly, your job is important to you, so you will definitely not want to do anything to incur the wrath of your employers. Even if your photos are not showing any industral secrets or anything, it may be that the machines that work in your factory are quite special, and that the engineering solutions that went into setting them up are industry secrets – even though you may have seen them every day for ten years, it may be just the kind of information your competitors are looking for!
Basically, I would say that you should go to your line manager. Tell them your intent, and suggest that they get to see a print of all the photos you take before you publish them. Even if you have a clause in your work contract that prohibits you from taking photos, your line manager may think it’s a brilliant idea and let you take the photos anyway. In addition, having shown the photos to the management before anything happens means you can always just shrug and say that you did clear it with them before publishing anything.
Let us know how it goes!
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