Prepurchase Veterinary Exam Results and Videos Taken by Prospective Buyers

by Rachel Kosmal McCart | July 21st, 2011 4:28 PM | No Comments

Who Owns Them, and What Can They Do with Them?

Q:  We have a young Hunter Under Saddle prospect for sale and a lot of prospective buyers have expressed an interest in him.  One prospective buyer came out to look at him and took some video footage of the colt going around in our arena. The prospective buyer had our vet take some radiographs (which the buyer paid for) and then had his own vet look at the radiographs.  The buyer then decided not to buy the horse, saying that his own vet saw some “problems” with the radiographs.  The buyer wouldn’t tell us what his vet saw, or release the prepurchase exam records.  However, the buyer has now posted a copy of the video online, and he has also posted a copy of his vet’s report, which says that the horse has bone chips in his hocks!  This colt is a super fancy mover, and as far as we know, he’s sound and healthy.  But because of what this guy has posted on the Internet, interest from prospective buyers has more or less completely evaporated!   Can the buyer do this?

A:   In general, the person who pays for veterinary work owns the records, even if they don’t own the horse.  Therefore, prospective buyers who pay for prepurchase exams own those exam records even if they don’t ultimately buy the horse.  So, here, your colt’s prepurchase exam records do belong to the buyer, and he has the right to publish them, even if the records pertain to a horse that doesn’t belong to him.   Here, it does not appear that the buyer has done anything more than post the records in their entirety.

The same is true for the video footage – the videographer owns the footage, regardless of the subject of the video.  Here, it does not appear that the buyer has done anything more than post the video in its entirety, and it doesn’t appear that the buyer is receiving any compensation in connection with the video.

Based upon the above facts, it does not appear that there’s a viable cause of legal action against the buyer.  However, the following factors might support a legal case:

  • If the buyer were receiving compensation in connection with posting the video (i.e., he/she is a commercial videographer and uses the video as an example of their work, or he/she is receiving compensation every time the video is viewed or downloaded).
  • If the buyer had edited the video and/or records in such a way that made them appear different than the original.
  • If the buyer had added his or her own commentary actively discouraging prospective buyers from considering this horse or dealing with the sellers in question.

A side note:  Now that you as sellers are aware that a veterinarian has examined this horse’s radiographs and found bone chips, you have a duty to disclose that information to potential buyers.  However, you can certainly have your own veterinarian examine the horse and the radiographs and also share that information with potential buyers.


About the Author

Rachel Kosmal McCart is an equine attorney and the founder of Equine Legal Solutions, PC, a law firm dedicated to the horse industry. Rachel regularly represents clients in litigation matters and breed association disciplinary hearings, and also provides clients with customized contracts. Equine Legal Solutions also offers a wide range of horse contract forms, such as horse sale and purchase agreements, boarding contracts and equine liability releases. These equine contracts are available for download from Equine Legal Solutions’ website.

This column is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. Because even small variations in the facts and circumstances of individual legal cases can dramatically affect the advice an attorney would provide, Rachel Kosmal McCart, Equine Legal Solutions and highly recommend that all readers with potential legal cases consult their own attorneys. If you don’t have an attorney, Equine Legal Solutions’ website offers a state-by-state directory of equine attorneys, along with tips for hiring an attorney.

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