Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

Ford claims they own your pics — if it's got a Ford in it


Under generally accepted copyright law, as soon as you create anything (in this case taking a picture), you own the copyright to said creation.

Not according to Ford Motor Company. From Black Mustang Club (BMC) administrator/owner Lisa:

“I’m sorry, but at this point we will not be producing the 2008 BMC Calendar, featuring our 2007 Members of the Month, solely due to Ford Motor Company’s claim that THEY own all rights to the photos YOU take of YOUR car. I hope to resolve this soon, and be able to provide the calendar and other BMC merchandise that you guys want and deserve!”

So Ford’s thought is what? “Hey, we’re hurting anyway, why not tick off some of our most loyal owners that are promoting our product at their cost?” Yeah, that makes sense.

On a related note, how do you think this will apply to traffic camera (red-light cameras, speeding cameras, etc.)? “Your Honor, that image is not admissible in court because I own the rights to my image and Ford owns the right to the picture of that car. Since neither party has released their image for use in this manner I move that the image be destroyed, the case dismissed, and punitive damages be paid to both parties.”

Looks like I won’t be buying a Ford anytime soon.


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3 Responses

  1. fomocona says:

    I monitor several automotive webpages on behalf of Ford and I hope you don’t mind me posting a comment here. The calendar issue was a misunderstanding and it has been resolved. Ford does not intend to alienate any enthusiasts clubs and that’s why we moved quickly to clear the air. For more details please see the Black Mustang Club official website We appreciate our loyal customers and Mustang enthusiasts such as the Black Mustang Club members. Thank you.

  2. Joe says:


    Thank you for the follow up!

    The thread that you’re referring to contains the following quote by Whitney Drake of Ford Communications:

    “We’ve been watching this discussion with interest and I’d like to clarify what is essentially a misunderstanding. […] Ford has no problem with Mustang or other car owners taking pictures of their vehicles for use in club materials like calendars. What we do have an issue with are individuals using Ford’s logo and other trademarks for products they intend to sell. […] The decision not to allow the calendars to be printed was made by Cafe Press, because we had gotten in touch with them in the past about trademark infringements on products they sold. […] The Black Mustang Club, and any other Ford enthusiast club, are free to take pictures of their own vehicles for use in calendars or other materials as long as they don’t use Ford trademarks in products that will be sold.”

    So, what does that all mean? You can take pictures of your Ford, and you can use the name “Ford” or “Mustang” but you can’t use them in items that will be sold, you know, like anything available through Cafe Press or any other on-demand print shop. Which is where the problem began.

    I’m sorry if I’m still confused, but it seems like Witney Drake’s post is contradictory — you can, but you can’t.

    In any event, the damage to Ford’s reputation has already been done, and now Ford is playing the damage control game — and, no offense, not very well.

    Ford needs to publish a brand usage guidelines document for “enthusiast” or “club” use (which would apply to websites, printed materials, apparel, clothing, etc.), and built/offer a section on their website where enthusiasts can get high quality images of Ford trademarks, brands, logos, etc., for use in their publications.

    Rather than offending their biggest supporters and fan-base, Ford needs to embrace them and leverage their enthusiasm to help solidify their brands and products.

    Or not. Ford’s already seen how quickly information about their negative actions flows through the internet and can damage their brand. It flows just as fast for positive actions.

    The air is still pretty murky. We look forward to your further comment on the topic.

  3. fomocona says:

    Unfortunately, I do not work in the legal or brand management departments at Ford so I’m not qualified to discuss the legal aspect of this topic. However, the internet is what it is and stories move fast in cyberspace. As groups were discussing this story, I posted my comments on several threads (mostly automotive sites I follow) to ensure that the conversations had access to the resolution of this situation with the BMC calendar. Ford is supportive of automobile enthusiasts groups and we are glad this issue is resolved. However, if somebody is interested in more information about the Ford brand, please write Ford at Thanks for letting me post here.

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