2. Property Releases
In some cases, you'll need to obtain a release for using pictures of places. You may find this odd -- after all if a building can be viewed publicly why is permission required to use an image of it? Over the last few decades some buildings have earned protection under both trademark or copyright laws or both. Trademark law will protect a building's appearance under very limited circumstances. If a distinctive-looking building is used to signify a business's services, then you cannot use an image of that building in a manner that will confuse consumers. For example, the Sears Tower in Chicago functions as a trademark, and if you intend to use it in the foreground of an advertisement, permission should be obtained from the Sears Company. Use of the building's image for informational purposes, such as in magazine article, does not require permission.
Is permission needed to use the image of a trademarked building on a postcard or poster? That issue arose when a photographer sold images of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A federal court of appeals permitted the use of the trademarked building on posters and did not consider it to be trademark infringement. (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame v. Gentile, 134 F.3d 749 (6th Cir. 1998).)
Copyright protection also extends to architectural works, specifically for architectural works created after March 1, 1989. However copyright protection also has limitations. A release is not needed to photograph a building or property visible from a public place. However, permission is needed to photograph and reproduce images of a building protected by copyright and not visible from a public place. Entering private property to photograph a building or related private property may also trigger a claim of trespass. To avoid such claims, photographers, publishers and filmmakers use a property release, sometimes known as a location release.