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Photography Question 
Piotr M. Organa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/12/2004
 

Model Releases: Dogs, Buildings, People!


Can I be sued for selling a dog photo without written permission by the owner?


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2/4/2005 5:15:20 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  Piotr,
Yes you can. Just like a building that is owned by a company, a dog is considered private property and permission is required.


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2/4/2005 7:36:51 PM

 
Piotr M. Organa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/12/2004
  I was afraid so. Thank you, Charlie. By the way: Is email considered a legal proof of agreement?


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2/5/2005 6:24:47 AM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  Piotr,
If it is a regular model release, I think so, but it's always better to have an original release signed with their ink on it rather than a Xerox-type copy. This might be a question for the lawyers.


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2/5/2005 8:31:02 AM

 
Piotr M. Organa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/12/2004
  Thank you very much! Charlie, you are awesome.
I want to use dog images to promote my soon to be opened studio. Oh, well, one more obstacle - no biggie.
Incorporate?


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2/5/2005 9:03:49 AM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  I don't look for a reply to this, but isn't this rather sad that somebody would look for money by seeking legal action for you not saying that they could use your dog in a picture?


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2/6/2005 11:20:57 PM

 
Piotr M. Organa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/12/2004
  It's some kind of zombieland nightmare.
The moment I open my studio I'm a sitting duck. Anybody can sue me for anyything. If I dont incorporate I'll lose my house.
I got a brochure in the mail: We sue anybody for anything! Just give us an idea! If you don't have idea yet - call us, we'll give you an idea: boss, spouse , children, neighbours, whoever!


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2/7/2005 5:19:10 AM

 
doug Nelson   The absudity of our legal system staggers the imagination. Can't you see a court docket that reads, "Fifi vs. Piotr O.", with the California dog psychologist taking the stand to testify that Fifi has suffered emottional distress at her photo being used on a box of doggie snacks.


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2/7/2005 7:00:57 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Any of you care to have any kind of picture of you used anyway somebody pleases?


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2/7/2005 11:03:06 AM

 
Donna Davia   Going back to the privately owned building thing ... I thought the law read that any building 200 feet or less from a public road and clearly visible was fair game as a subject without permission. And as for the dog, if it could be "any dog" of that breed - in other words, if the dog wasn't clearly recognizable as a specific dog - I thought that was permissable too. Example: I shot a dog show and was sorting the photos. Many of the owners couldn't tell their dogs from others like them - two labs that looked just alike, the basset hounds (which were related), and two boxers.


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2/9/2005 6:08:32 AM

 
  Donna,
You make some good points, and I do not know about the 200' rule of off the road. I have been involved in stock photography for 25 years, and three times I have taken a year and traveled the back roads of America in an RV, shooting everything. I would get these fantastic shots of farms with red barns and red silos and a cornfield in the foreground. My stock photo agencies wouldn't touch them with a 10-foot pole, because I got no releases. The Transamerica Building in San Francisco has sued many times for unauthorized use of photos of their building.

There is a war memorial in Washington DC, and I cannot remember the name, but it is a sculpture of fallen soldiers, I believe. This sculpture sits out there near other monuments in the area, and it was commissioned and paid for by the U.S. government - meaning yours and my tax dollars. The sculptor has sued every photographer who has taken a photo and published it in postcards and calendars, etc.

As far as the dogs are concerned: They do have to be released, and it doesn't matter whether they can be recognized or not. In our society today, if you are accused, you are presumed guilty and must prove your innocence. It only takes one dog owner to claim that your photo is their dog and they did not give you permission to publish the photo. You will spend time fighting back and may eventually spend lots of money to continue the fight. If you have a release, you can at least say, "Look, here's the release". I knew someone years ago who did shows also, and they took pictures, located the owner, got a release, and took a snapshot of the owner and dog together, then placed the pic and release together in their files. As an agency owner, I have seen - over and over - photographers be falsely accused of taking someone's picture without permission. I have four friends who are longtime photographers and have paid out thousands of dollars to accusers because they didn't get a release when they were shooting these people. They all were shoots done with the people and the people were willing participants, but each of them saw their image years later and knew they had not signed a release.

Five years ago, I was accused by a "well-known actor" in N.Y. (who was really nobody) of taking his picture without permission. The photo was of a hand that was holding a phone, and the model was talking into it - a close-up showing mouth, hand, and phone. I have never been to N.Y., so it couldn't be him. It cost me substantial time to fight this "extortionist" off, but eventually I proved it wasn't him by having a release and another photo showing the full face of the model I had hired. In photography, it is better to assume that you need a release for anything owned by someone else.


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2/9/2005 8:28:40 AM

 
Carla Freitas
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/7/2005
  I have also heard the 200-foot rule. The source I got it from was a magazine for photographers, and I've lost the magazine so I won't quote a name. Suffice to say, I thought my shots were all safe.


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2/11/2005 2:38:41 PM

 
Piotr M. Organa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/12/2004
  I'm attending a business seminar for new entrepreneurs. About 25 people in the class, from organic chocolate manufacturer to demolition man. All relatively confident about their product, management skills etc. and terrified of liability.
This is bad for economy!
P.S. Any idea how to compose a model release for a dog? :)


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2/11/2005 2:57:35 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Some over weight people are trying to sue McDonalds for making them over weight.


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2/12/2005 3:37:12 AM

 
Piotr M. Organa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/12/2004
  I think that some professional courtroom hyenas figured out that it is easier for a photographer to just pay them off than loose the shirt on attorneys.
There must be a way to stop their dirty business. Hiring a private investigator to check their background might do.


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2/12/2005 5:09:02 AM

 
Jen Hernandez
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/11/2003
  I found this link interesting:

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

This particular attorney says that anyone may take pictures in public places including buildings and people. And that property owners cannot prohibit others from taking pictures of their property as long as you are not actually on their property. He says children and celebrities are also legal if shot in a public place. There just doesn't seem to be a clear cut law about what is lawful. It seems that it just depends who you talk to! Crazy. Oh well, I make sure I always get a release just so I won't have to worry about it later.


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2/15/2005 2:57:51 PM

 
Rich    What about taking pictures of a street scene say in NYC and the faces of people can be seen?


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2/15/2005 4:20:09 PM

 
Piotr M. Organa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/12/2004
  I told the lawyer who teaches our class of new businessmen about the paranoia. He says there is no 'onus' on photographer, keep shooting.
Piotr - Toronto, Canada


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2/15/2005 5:49:26 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Hello! Since so many people have responded to this, I'm hoping many of you will see this and give me some input. If I took pictures of places either college buildings, public buildings like maybe a courthouse or say interesting parts of peoples houses that don't show the address, would I need some kind of a release in order to sell those on a small scale to people? Say I take a picture of an old door on a house or a barn or a cornfield and somebody asked about buying one as art for their house or for a maybe in a coffee shop or privately owned store. Is this allowed without a release on the house, land (cornfield), or such? What if they have somebody in them? Since they're not being published in something large, does it matter? Thanks! :)


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2/15/2005 6:13:38 PM

 
Donna Davia   This is an interesting string of thought...there was a feature in popular photography about "street photographers" and some amazing photos of people captured in fleeting moments and of all ages and I'm absolutely certain they could not have possibly gotten releases from these people...and these were all published in something large. I wonder if we should shoot and hope in order to document our time. I wouldn't use a photo of someone I didn't know to advertise a product (except to show I can take a decent picture) without
permission or put it in a stock portfolio where it could be used that way but I take pictures of skiers
from the lift--great action shots and I use them in my portfolio. I doubt I could find the skier on the mountain afterwords for permission without being able to blow up the shot and see it in more detail
(they go by too fast and I'm shooting continuous frames).

I think it's mostly greed based--someone would have to see the image and think that there was money in it for them (the lawyers get paid regardless). I think it's rarely about "right and wrong".


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2/16/2005 5:10:24 AM

 
  Bottom line is anybody can sue anybody for anything at anytime! Being in the agency business, we are a little more privy to the industry inside news regarding these lawsuits and how much gets paid out every year. NOw this happened to me YESTERDAY: I get a call from a model whom I hired about 8 years ago to do a "Mature Adult" production shoot. Couples, cooking together, walking in the park, birthday cards, lots of scenarios all shot in one day. He signed my model release because I require it from all shoots and pay them. ALL my stock photo sales come from website downloads these days and someone purchased an image of him from this shoot and used it in a condom ad that has been running for a while. He has a hired a lawyer! Even though I have a release from him, this goes beyond 'normal use' and I will be yanked into this. People have won suits even with releases. NOw in my case, the person who purchsed and downloaded the image had to click on the "I Agree" button on the website license agreement which has a clause called "Senistive Uses" in which the buyer of the image has to get written permission from the model for these Sensitive Uses. They did not do that. So his lawsuit is really against them, but I will be drug into it. My point is: take all the risks you want. No matter whether you can or cannot see the face, 200' off the road, so and so said this; whatever, but if do not have a release you are at high risk, even with a release you are still at risk. And it is downright expensive to fight these things.


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2/16/2005 8:48:49 AM

 
Piotr M. Organa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/12/2004
  I getting seriously tired of it.
First: Who and how hacked the title of this thread? It was originaly "Model release for dogs?".
Second: The law may want to go nuts, I'll rather stay sane. I can be sued but still refuse to take this crap seriously.
Good luck to all who want to make themselves fit the letter and forget the spirit of the law.



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2/17/2005 8:48:54 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  guess you don't see the correlation. But nobody's telling you what you have to do, just something to keep in mind.


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2/17/2005 11:31:04 AM

 
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