The question of ownership under law has changed over time. Photography did not even exist at the time of the first copyright laws. Artwork was not even covered. While the copyright ownership under the law is clear, the rights to use photographs in printed or published works is not 100% clear.
- (1) To reproduce the work in copies;
- (2) To prepare derivative works;
- (3) To distribute copies to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
- (4) To display the copyrighted work publicly
For editorial use pictures can be used within fair use provisions of the law. For example this picture contains the famous Rockefeller Plaza Statue. It is a still from the 1949 musical film On the Town. The three actors are: Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin, and Gene Kelly. The film makers probably needed permission to make the film in Rockefeller Plaza. The actors signed contracts. If I wanted to take a picture of three sailors in the Plaza, how I use the picture would indicate the permissions needed. The use of this picture for this article is fair use because it is for editorial illustrative purposes. I know who the names of the actors because in the next shot their faces are clearly seen and I read the credits. Generally, people have a right to control the use of their likeness. If the people were random passers-by I would need model releases before I could publish the pictures in a commercial way that would associate them with my product or service. If I would associate a still picture or film with my product or services, I probably need permission.