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I am designing a music-based mobile app that will need lots of instrument graphics and sounds bytes, etc.

  1. Would I be in legal trouble if I photographed my Fender guitars and used these photographs in my commercial app?
  2. Could I even reference them as 'Fender guitars' and use their actual model name, etc?
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As far as using your own pictures -- they are yours, you can use them however you want. As far as using brand names for commercial purposes, I have no idea. –  Johannes May 30 '13 at 21:09

3 Answers 3

You own the photos, but if you are using photo of trademarked items in commercial projects then yes, you need releases.

Photographers can't use photographs of private buildings or structures in commercial work unless they get releases. They can't use automobiles without releases.

I can't see how guitars would be any different. You need a release from Fender, or any other manufacturer.

You may be able to somewhat get around this by removing any distinctive items or logos on the product/guitars. But just removing logo can be a fine line. You must make the photo of the item essentially unidentifiable as a custom item.

For example, if you were to take a full photograph of a Gibson SG, or a BC Rich Warlock, there's no way you can make those photos look like just "any generic guitar" due to their custom shapes. But if you were to take a photo of just the sound hole and strings of an acoustic, or just the fretboard of an electric (with standard inlays) anyone would be hard pressed to identify the photo as any specific model of guitar.

You definitely can't use trademarked model names to sell anything without a release first.

Amplitude paid for a license to use Fender. I doubt Fender (or Amplitube) would let you get away with doing the same for free.

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I see an issue present and understand what @Scott is coming from unless you have signed documentation that may prevent such usage from the manufacture. Furthermore it would depend if you are the actual owner of the equipment and hold the copyright. There are some loops but again it would depend on how you are using the photography because they do own the copyright.

I would strongly advise reading this document for better understanding and consulting a lawyer. I say this because there may be a loop hole and then there may not be depending on how you are doing your app.

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Like several other answerers have said, the photos are yours, just blur out the logos and anything else that makes the product recognizable. Make the "Fender guitars" indiscernible from any other guitar.

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