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Image and Filming FAQ

1  Can I take pictures or film footage of Sydney Opera House?
Yes.  SOH encourages visitors to the precinct to photograph or film their visit for personal use.  You are welcome to share the memories of your trip to SOH with your friends and relatives.  Any photo or film that you take will be your own property.  We ask only that you respect the purpose and aims of SOH by asking our permission before your image is used by you or anyone else to advertise any products or services (we consider this ‘commercial use’).

2  What “commercial use” of SOH images does SOH not approve of?
SOH does not approve of the use of an image of SOH (whether photographs or logos incorporating the photographic image or a stylised image of SOH) to promote goods or services when there is no sponsorship, endorsement or other association between SOH and those goods or services.
Examples include:
• professional photographers using photographs of SOH to advertise their photography services
• businesses using images or logos of SOH to advertise their goods or services when they have no commercial or sponsorship association with SOH
• filming of advertisements featuring SOH prominently or exclusively where the advertised product or service has no connection with SOH.
You may not use the image of SOH to suggest sponsorship or use it as a trade mark (or in the course of trade) in a manner which may mislead consumers into believing that your product or service has an association with the SOH unless you have been granted a licence by SOH to use the image in this way.   Such commercial uses of the Opera House image are exclusive to SOH and its licensed users only.

3 Why is commercial use a problem for SOH?
Commercial use makes use of SOH’s image or ‘brand’.  SOH is vigilant in ensuring that goods and services providers who have no association with SOH are not permitted to mislead and deceive consumers by misappropriating the image of the SOH to falsely represent a commercial relationship with the SOH.
As a non-profit arts organisation, we rely heavily on sponsorships and commercial licensing to help us carry out our operations and maintain this much-loved Australian icon.  It is therefore important for us to protect our image and maintain its brand value so that we can generate the necessary funding to support our activities.

4. Can I film Sydney Opera House as part of an advertisement I’m making?
If you wish to film or photograph SOH as part of an advertisement then you must apply for site accreditation with Public Relations at least 10 working days prior to the proposed visit date.  Public Relations will assess your request and, if approved, you and your organisation must follow strict guidelines about use of SOH images (advised to you as part of accreditation approval). 
If SOH forms part of the incidental geography (a general Sydney harbour scene), in no greater prominence than other noteworthy features (such as the Harbour Bridge or city skyline) then the depiction of SOH should not be a problem. 

5. Can I film Sydney Opera House as part of a television program or documentary I’m making?
If you wish to film for television, you must apply for site accreditation with Public Relations at least 10 working days prior to the proposed visit date.  Public Relations will assess your request and, if approved, you and your organisation must follow strict guidelines about use of SOH images (advised to you as part of accreditation approval). 
For documentaries about or featuring SOH, you will be required to enter into a licence agreement with SOH which will cover site access protocols, applicable licence fees and other terms and conditions of access.  We encourage you to contact Public Relations as far in advance of your filming schedule as possible so that we can accommodate your request. 

6. I took a photo of SOH - why can’t I do what I like with those images?
Personal use of your SOH photos is encouraged by SOH.  However, if photographs of SOH are used to sell goods or services not related to SOH, in such a way that suggests those goods or services are somehow associated with SOH or that SOH has approved the use of the images or endorsed the relevant goods or services, then the use of these images in this context is misleading and deceptive for consumers. 
It is not relevant whether the photo was taken on SOH premises or not.  If SOH forms the exclusive subject or dominant image of the photo, our concerns regarding commercial use apply (as discussed in items 2 and 3 above). 

7. I supply goods and services to SOH – are there any guidelines for using SOH images?
SOH values the commercial relationships it has with its suppliers.  There are strict guidelines for suppliers who wish to use SOH images to publicise their commercial relationship.  Please contact your usual SOH representative who will be able to assist you or direct your inquiry to the appropriate person in SOH. 

8. My business is in Sydney and I want to create a logo which incorporates an image of SOH to identify my business with Sydney – will that be a problem if my business and SOH are not connected?
Many businesses unrelated to SOH seek to use representations of SOH in their advertising or logos.  Where SOH is the dominant or exclusive subject of those images or logos, people may be misled into thinking that the business is associated with SOH when it is not. 
To avoid misleading the public and being contacted by SOH, SOH recommends that businesses seek to incorporate other well known features or elements of Sydney Harbour in equal representation with the SOH, such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Centrepoint Tower or the city skyline as part of their designs or logos.  If you are not sure whether your proposed image raises concerns, please contact us and we can provide you with specific guidance. 

9. I’m a wedding photographer and my clients want to have their wedding photos taken at Sydney Opera House – can I come on site to take photos for them?
Wedding photography on site is permissible where the images are for your client’s personal use.  Please remember to conduct your activities on site safely and minimise disruption to other visitors enjoying the precinct.  While on site, we also remind you that at all times you are subject the direction of SOH Security. 
Please note that prior approval of wedding cars on site is required before access can be granted for the event.

10. Can I use the wedding photos I took of my clients at Sydney Opera House to advertise my photography services?
SOH understands that it is common practice for wedding photographers to use some of their client’s photographs to promote their wedding photography services to other prospective clients on their websites and in promotional materials. 
In instances where SOH merely forms a backdrop to the wedding couple or only a small proportion of the wedding photo, it is possible that SOH will have no objection to your use of the SOH image to advertise your wedding photography services.  If you are not sure whether your proposed use raises concerns, please contact us and we can provide you with specific guidance. 

11. I am an amateur / semi-professional photographer member of an online stock photo library and upload my photos primarily for sharing and comment by other members.  My stock photo library also allows other people to buy my photos for a small royalty – is there any problem with me uploading pictures I took of Sydney Opera House?
If you upload photographs of SOH for the purpose of discussing photographic techniques with your online colleagues, SOH considers that to be personal use and has no objection to images of SOH being used in this manner. 
However, where a third party seeks to purchase your SOH image and use it to promote goods and services unrelated to SOH, that use would damage our brand and the exclusivity that we offer to our sponsors. 
Each stock photo library maintains its own policies with regard to intellectual property and that, while SOH can inform your library of our policy, SOH cannot force your stock photo library to amend their policy.
If you consider that your stock photo agency has not been in contact with SOH, you can contact us and  tell us the name of your stock photo agency and we can contact them directly. 

12         I am a professional photographer and I would like to sell postcards, picture books and other merchandise based on pictures I took of Sydney Opera House – will that be a problem?

–Any proposed commercial use must first be authorised by SOH.  Commercial photography or filming on SOH premises is prohibited under the Sydney Opera House Trust By-law 2005.  SOH Security is empowered to take a person’s details and photograph where they suspect on reasonable grounds that our by-laws are or have been contravened.  Unless you have been authorised by the SOH Trust to come on site for your commercial purposes, SOH Security can enforce our by-laws by, amongst other things, directing you to leave the premises.

13        How can I get authorisation to come on site to take pictures for my commercial use?

Please apply to us setting out details of your project.  SOH will assess your application and if your request is approved, you will be required to:

  • enter into a location agreement with SOH;
  • credit SOH on the product or images;
  • not seek or permit any corporate sponsors to associate themselves with your SOH images or products (in particular not putting corporate logos near or on images of SOH);
  • not seek to sell your photographs of the SOH to any corporate entities or other individuals to use in a business logo, or to use in a way which may suggest an association between that business and the SOH, where no such relationship legitimately exists; and
  • pay a small administration fee to cover our administration costs of processing your application, making a member of staff available to organise site access for you (where necessary) and supporting SOH.    

14  My photo contains SOH but also the Harbour Bridge and other elements of the Sydney cityscape – do I need to get SOH’s permission to commercially use this photograph?

Where your photo or image places SOH in its geographical context of Sydney Harbour, in equal representation with other elements of the harbour such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the city skyline, SOH will generally have no issue with commercial use of the image.  SOH’s concerns regarding commercial use of SOH images only apply where SOH forms the exclusive or dominant feature of the image.  If you are not sure whether your image raises concerns, please contact us  and we can provide you with specific guidance. 

15    The photo library I belong to requires me to get a Property release before they will allow me to upload photos I took of Sydney Opera House – can you give me a release?

We prefer to contact your image library directly to tell them about our policy regarding use of photos of SOH.  We have contacted several image libraries to date but it is possible that we have not contacted your library yet.  Please get in touch with us and we will try to communicate directly with your image library.  Please be advised that each stock photo library maintains its own policies with regard to intellectual property and that, while SOH can inform your library of our policy, SOH cannot force your stock photo library to amend their policy.

16. How can I become a sponsor of SOH or directly support SOH’s activities?
SOH offers its sponsors a range of benefits and the opportunity to associate your business with one of the world’s best known brands.  Please contact us and we will arrange for SOH’s Corporate Partnerships team to contact you to discuss sponsorship options and outline the many sponsorship benefits available.
SOH also accepts donations to its Annual Giving Program.  For more information on how you can support SOH click here

17. Guidelines for SOH image use for NSW Government agencies and authorities

On 12 October 2007, the NSW Premier issued Memorandum No.2007-14 “Sydney Opera House – requirements regarding the use of the Sydney Opera House Site, Image or Brand” which states that all NSW “agencies and authorities must seek the agreement of Sydney Opera House Trust prior to any proposed use of the Sydney Opera House site or an image (including a photo, stylised representation or recording) of the Sydney Opera House for any official purpose of those agencies or authorities.” 
If you have any questions about how your agency or authority can comply with this requirement, please contact us  and we will be able to provide more specific guidance.

18. Do I still need to seek SOH permission where my NSW agency or authority has permission from the copyright owner to use a particular photograph of SOH?
Yes, you do.  Your copyright permission allows you to reproduce that particular image.  However, that copyright permission does not cover your use of the SOH image or brand for your agency or authority’s official purposes.  SOH is concerned with how the image will be used and who will be using the image. 


 Brand Team
Email:  Brand Request


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