BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Tracy Turner
 

Model Release for a Parade?


I recently took a lot of photos at my hometown Homecoming Parade. I want to use some of the shots in a portfolio and Web site to show my work. Do I need a release since they were in a public event? Also, are children different than adults, in that I need their parents' permission, or are they granting permission by having their children in the parade as a public event?


To love this question, log in above
8/18/2005 12:20:34 AM

 
kerby lee pfrangle
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/19/2005
Contact kerby
kerby's Gallery
pfrangle.com
  Tracy, you have a person in the picture, so you get their permission to use the image. If it is a child, you get the parents' permission.


To love this comment, log in above
8/18/2005 1:36:24 AM

 
Brendan Knell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/17/2005
  I'm pretty sure that you can use it in a portfolio without a model release. But, yes, as Kerby said, you would definitely need a model release to post it on a Web site.


To love this comment, log in above
8/18/2005 12:00:28 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  Tracy,
The biggest issue that gets photographers in trouble is the commercial use of an unreleased photo or person(s) or property. They have to prove damages to prevail, and once you have made money, they have a legitimate issue.
Charlie


To love this comment, log in above
8/18/2005 10:03:52 PM

 
David Ziff   Charlie, I have an additional query. Essentially, it would be impossible to get releases of a parade - how would one possibly trace down the people? There could be out-of-town spectators. Aren't you essentially saying no more broad public photos for commercial photographers, even though news photographers have the right? Also, who would sue? How would they find out? It seems like a crazy situation to me. Also, what do you mean by property? If I take a picture of a private house or someone's flowers, do I need a model release?? Egads!!


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 4:10:30 AM

 
Tracy Turner   Thank you for your response, David ... you asked all the other questions I was wondering about. How is it OK for the newspaper to print the same photo I took, but I'm not allowed to use it without a release? Aren't they making money with it on the front page? Also, the property thing has me puzzled, because I like to take pictures of old abandoned houses and old barns.


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 6:27:07 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   For editorial use (newspapers, etc.), you don't need a model release. That is just how the law is written.


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 7:14:01 AM

 
Robert Hambley
rlhambleyphotography.com
  For commercial release and use, you need a model release for people (parents for children). Charlie Borland had mentioned in a previous article/thread about a lawsuit regarding just a hand in a photo, no faces. He had the release, so all was well.
For private property, a release is required for property too.
You can take the pictures, you can't sell them as prints, postcards, calendars, T-shirts, etc., unless you have the release.
I have been shooting classic/custom hot rods lately, and have been getting the property release signed by offering a print. The property release, like any other contract, needs to have something of value to make it legitimate.
Hope this helps.


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 7:28:44 AM

 
Melissa  L. Zavadil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2005
  Tracy and David I think you will find this artical very good reading on model releases that explains in very good detail about this major grey area in regards to releases.

http://www.danheller.com/model-release.html#7.7


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 7:34:39 AM

 
David Ziff   Many thanks for the helpful replies. I still can't stop from going grrrr! I wonder if any other society is as litigious and restrictive on the use of photographic images as ours. Does anyone know the requirements for example in Europe? By this criteria, there are many famous photographs, which are part of our artistic legacy, which would now, apparently, be impossible - for example the famous Coney Island photo of thousands. The possibility of getting releases for everyone in crowd photos or parades (which was Tracy's starting point here) are for all practical purposes, zero. It's our loss and it's a loss to the future of photography. IMHO, if the law gives carte blanche to the fourth estate, it should given wider lattitude and license to the photographer who is creating, after all, works of art. David


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 8:40:35 AM

 
William Koplitz   In a portfolio presentation, you can show anyone anything at all. If you publish someone's photograph (yes, the Web is publishing), you need to be aware of privacy laws. This is a great place to apply the Golden Rule.


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 9:09:28 AM

 
David Ziff   Dear William, I dare say millions of photos by now have been published on the web of friends, families and numerous others including property without any thought of privacy laws you cited. I'm referring to INNUMERABLE personal Web sites as well as the countless venues aggressively provided by Nikon InTouch, Kodak Ofoto, flickr, Homepage.Mac. and numerous other sites devoted to publishing personal photos on the web. None of the corporations involved, some of which have huge legal departments, seem the least bit concerned; in fact, they have facilitated publication in any way they can, promoting how easy their sites make it. Yet by your statement anyone publishing a photograph on the web "needs to be aware of privacy laws." Yet a casual inspection of the above scene does not seem to indicate any need whatsoever. Is there something here I haven't grasped or do you want to clarify your statement?


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 9:47:24 AM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
Contact Sharon
Sharon 's Gallery
  Images taken of people in public places: OK, you can't sell it, but how about these contests? I don't normally enter photos of people but last month, I did enter one I had taken behind the crowd of an eruption of Old Faithful. Many many people in the pic. Is it inappropriate to win or even display such photos? BTW, it didn't make it in the contest. Just wondering if I should remove it from my gallery as well? After reading these discussions several times, I'd never try to sell one with so much as a hand in the photo without a release.


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 10:47:35 AM

 
William Koplitz   David, You aren't reading the fine print when you sign up for these sites are you? The Nikon user agreement requires you to give them the right to publish your images when you sign up for the service. It states in the service agreement that they can use your photograph without permission or compensation in any manner they choose - thoroughout the world, many sites use the same language.
The big question is... if the images are behind a log in, or in another way not easily accessible by the casual web surfer, are they considered published or still private. I think that's the question the courts will have to answer. There may not be a need, by you, to ask permission to publish a person's photograph on your web site, but permission is still a requirement. All commerical and editorial photographers get permission to publish a person's photograph on their site, it would be crazy not to.


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 12:09:19 PM

 
  Hey Gang,
You all have very valid points and questions regarding releases. I am not a lawyer, but have been in the biz of stock for close to 30 years and been threatened many times with legal action. Never lost, though!

The question of "how can they sue me"? I can sue any one of you for any reason, no matter how ridiculous, because our system allows that. My complaint may get tossed, but you spent time and possibly money fighting me. I have been threatened with a lawsuit for one of my Royalty-Free images of a mouth talking into the phone. I hired a model for the shoot, and the accuser was not the model. Once I produced a full-face image of my model, the guy backed off, but I spent time dealing with it. My ex-business partner spent about a thousand dollars on a lawyer battling a guy who said he wasn't 18 years old when he signed the model release for the shoot. My partner proved he was legal age.

If you shoot a crowd at a parade and every person is recognizable and you sell it to a major insurance company who uses it in an ad on a theme of "Americans Stand United and Blaw Blaw Insurance will stand with you", you could very easily hear from several of their lawyers. As Kerry mentions, the newspaper is editorial news and the use of the photo does not endorse a commercial product or service.

I have shot events in my town with lots of people in the scene and sold to the tourism board for publication. This is not news nor commercial use. I have never heard from anyone in the photos published, either.

You can shoot private property from public property, but once you make money, you have entered new territory and a property release is required. Otherwise, you can open the door for more legal action. The owners of the TransAmerica building in San Francisco have successfully sued numerous photographers who have singled out their building and sold the pictures. My understanding is that if you have 3 or more buildings in your image, you have a skyline instead of a building photo. Skylines don't require releases for any building.

Putting your unreleased image in a contest or on your Web site should not be a problem because you have not sold the image. I believe they have to prove damages, and if you weren't paid, then you did not profit from the use of their photo. I don't worry about that stuff, I worry about the higher-profile uses.
Charlie


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 1:37:41 PM

 
David Ziff   Charlie, thanks for the helpful data. Can you address the issue raised by William regarding publishing on the Web in personal Web sites? I thought the rule was one has to profit or seek commercialization before the photo police come knocking on your door. Please, can anyone point me to the relevant code on the Internet so I can verify this data for myself?


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 5:15:04 PM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  My belief is this ... "If you make money from the photo ... then get a model release". If it sits in your portfolio as a "sample of your work", then you do not need a model release. I believe this applies to publishing on the Web also, providing the photo is not for sale.


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 6:59:10 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  David,
I think Roy is right on the mark in his explanation. I have plenty of photos of clients in my course lessons and Web site with no releases and have never had an issue. All I am saying with the photos is I took them, and here is the quality of my work. That's it.
Charlie


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 7:48:44 PM

 
David Ziff   Whew! Roy and Charles, much appreciated!


To love this comment, log in above
8/23/2005 7:56:22 PM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
Contact Sharon
Sharon 's Gallery
  Thanks Charlie!!! I have wondered about the contest for a while. I don't normally shoot people, because I don't like to deal with model releases. Wildflowers aren't so picky :D.


To love this comment, log in above
8/24/2005 1:26:51 PM

 
Tracy Turner   Thanks to everyone who responded to my question! I have a little better understanding of the ways I can use my photos without getting into trouble. I will start getting releases from now on, when able, just in case I want to sell the picture. Thanks again, everybody!


To love this comment, log in above
8/24/2005 2:57:55 PM

 
jean ray
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/22/2004
  This is just really discouraging. There are so many situations for great shots that involve people where getting a model release for everyone is totally impractical if not impossible. It pretty much rules ut street photography, events, etc. While kayaking on vacation, I got a great shot of a mother and her two daughters in another kayak, close enough that they're definitely recognizable. I just didn't have any model releases along so I could paddle over to her and ask if she'd sign! Is this what other photographers routinely do when doing travel photography?


To love this comment, log in above
8/27/2005 4:27:55 PM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  Here's one solution (if you don't mind the time involved). If your shot is really good and you want to use it, try editing the faces to be different from their originals. Nobody could sue you for this, as they would appear to be different people (or altered enough to be unrecognisable). This, of course, is assuming you are "digital".


To love this comment, log in above
8/27/2005 10:18:49 PM

 
Robert E. Gay   O.K. So is there somewhere I can download an actual model release form or will a piece of paper work? What is specificly needed for it to be legal?


To love this comment, log in above
8/29/2005 9:26:07 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Model Release

For valuable consideration received, I hereby grant to , and his legal representatives and assigns, the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use and publish photographs of me, or in which I may be included, for editorial trade, advertising and any other purpose and in any manner and medium; and to alter the same without restriction. I hereby release photographer and his legal representatives and assigns from all claims and liability relating to said photographs.
Name:

Address:

Phone: (_____)

Email:

Signature:


To love this comment, log in above
8/29/2005 9:31:10 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Insert your name after "grant to".


To love this comment, log in above
8/29/2005 9:32:21 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   To give credit where credit is due, this came from:

http://www.danheller.com/model-release


To love this comment, log in above
8/29/2005 9:34:00 AM

 
Robert E. Gay   Oops, just found it up above. Thank you.


To love this comment, log in above
8/29/2005 9:36:44 AM

 
Derek Holyhead   Hi David,

The laws in the UK are different and seem some what more lenient and an explanation can be found here:
http://www.sirimo.co.uk/ukpr.php
and the US version:
http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm
I wonder what would happen if I take the photo in the US and sell it in the UK? Seems so much grey area, I'll stick to wildlife and landscapes LOL. Hope the two links above help though.

Regards,
Del


To love this comment, log in above
8/29/2005 1:28:16 PM

 
William Koplitz   The British Statute of Anne, from 1710 was the first copyright act in the world. http://www.copyrighthistory.com/anne.html
But this really isn't a copyright question as much as a privacy question. The US and UK have a treaty that covers this particular issue. Public domain images in the US are also public domain in the UK.

Is a photographer allowed to take photographs of a private citizen and post them on his web site without a model release for his own personal gain? If you are a news organization, the answer is yes, if you are a commercial photographer you have to be careful to let the viewer know that the image is a sample and not for sale, that might protect you.

A model release is a contract, "for valuable consideration received" in order for it to be enforcable something of value has to be exchanged.


To love this comment, log in above
8/29/2005 5:21:48 PM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  Based on research I have done on the Internet over the past 2 years, and being a graphic designer, I have created my own batch of model release forms (4 in total... being Adult, Minor, Property and Permission). I have these 4 files in PDF format (sizes range from 100k to 250k each). Anyone wishing copies, send me and email to: royb7@mac.com


To love this comment, log in above
8/29/2005 10:10:31 PM

 
Margie    I like to take the 'better safe than sorry' approach and ALWAYS get a release signed. That way you never have to worry. Suppose you shoot something for editorial purposes and years later see the potential for the photo in a commercial use. Good luck getting a release then! And, yes, carry releases with you if that's what it takes.

Also, on the topic of portfolios, anytime the photos are of an intimate nature (pregnancy, boudoir, etc.) be respectful of the person in the photo and get a model release before showing the photo to anyone. Regardless of the law, the person has a right to know if their photo will be seen by anyone else.


To love this comment, log in above
9/2/2005 7:31:13 PM

 
Michael    I was talking to a photographer in the Los Angeles area were I live and we started talking about this subject. He and his fellow photographers sought legal assistance on this subject from a contracts lawyer. In this area if you weren't able to get releases from the people at events you could run an add in the newspaper like starting a bussiness which reads the date of the event and contact information for the photographer. If no responce is made than the pictures could be used without legal issues since an effort was made to contact any persons that might have photographed. Seek legal assistance on this to see if your area laws may include this action.


To love this comment, log in above
9/5/2005 10:50:41 AM

 
Melissa  L. Zavadil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2005
  Hey Kerry,
I was using that model release for a while until my husband saw it and nearly flipped. The model release is not good. And the verbage will not hold up in a court of law. Mainly due to the part where "said" photographs are mentioned and no specific date is mentioned. This is not good. (My husband is a corporate litigator)
If you are looking for a model release I would recommend:

http://contributors.gettyimages.com/article.asp?article_id=991

These model releases have the appropriate law lingo and covers all the major areas.


To love this comment, log in above
9/5/2005 10:26:01 PM

 
Melissa  L. Zavadil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2005
  I should also state that the above getty model release is in all major languages.


To love this comment, log in above
9/5/2005 10:31:05 PM

 
Susan H.B. Waldrop   Thanks to everyone making contributions to the model release discussion--especially the Getty referral. It seems it is wise to get referrals whenever possible and put it in a paper when people are unreachable. Using any photo in a commercial "event" is problematic without it.


To love this comment, log in above
3/22/2012 4:48:42 AM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.