While Working with a Host Agency I Complete some Photographic Work, Can I Post these Photos on My Personal Website?

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“While employed by Americorp, and working for a host agency I photographed work that I completed in the scope of my duty. The photos were used for state permit submission. No where in my job description was there any reference to taking photos, only a broad category of organization initiatives.

I gave the organization a credit that they did the work, with me being the one who designed and implemented it while hosted by them.

I believe that I am in the right in using these photos on my new business website as I am the one who took them. They are in public record and I was not directly employed by the host organization claiming copyright.”

Question: As an employee performing those tasks within the scope of your duties, the general presumption — in the absence of any other contractual assignments of rights — would be that those materials would be owned by your employer. If your employer had you performing duties on a contractual basis, the materials you created could further be considered “works for hire” by the host agency and they could thereby claim ownership. Filing documents with government agencies does not negate a copyright claim, nor does it place them in the public domain for purposes of publication rights. In short, there might be an argument between your employer and the agency as to who owns those, but your claims aren’t going to withstand much of a challenge by either of them.