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Photography Question 
Christine Zipps
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/30/2007
 

Releases for Dance Photos & Papparazzi


I've recently taken some photos of dancers that I want to enter into a gallery art show where they would also be for sale. I got verbal permission from the director of this dance company but wondering if there is a streamlined way to get proper model releases for these? The dancers in question are all adult, btw. Would I would like to do is to make it date specific (took photos on two occasions) and not have to create one release for each photo and have each dance captured have to sign for it. Would this be possible? She's very busy, as am I and I didn't want this to be a big paperwork hassle for either of us, if not necessary.

Would appreciate any advice on this, please.

Also, as a matter of general curiosity, what's the deal when members of papparazzi take celebrity photos without permission to try to sell for gazillions? Why don't THEY seem to have to abide by the same copyright rules or have I missed what special deal makes them apparently exempt?

Thanks for your wise counsel as always!

Cris


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9/29/2008 2:59:27 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Greetings Cris. I'll offer you the following along with my standard disclaimer. This really isn't an appropriate forum to be getting legal advice since you can't rely upon answers you receive here as a defense at trial or in any other situation. You should read up on the subjects you're asking about or drop a dime and/or talk to a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law.

Generally, however, verbal releases, especially from a third party are not valid. Model releases are a contract between you and the adult (or adult-guardian of a child) that you specifically obtained a release for a specific photo on a specific date from. In other words, you can't enter into a valid contract by proxy and that would include third party beneficiary contracts unbeknownst to the (third party) photographed person.
Among other thing, they must be specific and communicated with particularity and accuracy to the individual for whom they benefit. Thus, a writing, a written release in this case, and sufficient legal consideration to make the contract binding. There are certainly exceptions to this, say a production manager consenting to photographing a dance company for publicity, something I do all the time, but the troupe is aware of my presence and purpose for being there. They're afforded an opportunity to "opt out" before I shoot and the usage of my work is quite specific and limited.

So, hassle or not, you should identify specifically each person you need a release for, contact them directly, offer them some contractual consideration and have them sign the model release. Sales, btw, is commercial use and this is NOT editorial.

If I'm shooting a play for commercial purposes, whether mine or the theatrical company, whether kids or adults, I always have the troupe manager provide a list of cast members. To that I attach a specific model release and both adults and parents of kids, sign their name next to their name on the cast list that specifically refers to the model release and I make sure they get a copy of the release with my name a phone number, the date, and the production title.

OTOH, some plays, depending on their working agreements with the theater or production company, may have release language inserted into their contract to cover publicity but restictions on commercial photo shoots. The work you propose here is commercial. If it's a union troupe like Intl. Assn' of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE), you need to be really sure about what you're doing and in fact, you may not be able to shoot unless you're a member of an affiliated union or local. That's especially true in Chicago, NYC and Los Angeles, among other cities.

Victims of papparazzi are generally public figures. Their rights to personal privacy are differently construed by the courts, hence they're not generally subject to the more restrictive rules by nature of their public stature. There are numerous exceptions to the rules, however. Editorial publications, news publications where the public might be construed as having a "right to know", among others may apply. Also some editors (although none that I specifically know) would rather ask for forgiveness rather than consent if some celebrity raises a valid ruckus, especially over an image that may have portrayed the individual in a false or otherwise defamatory light.

Get some of the books on law for photographers, business practice forms, ASMP.org or Bert Krages, among others, are good.
Take it light.
Mark


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9/29/2008 7:07:14 PM

 
Christine Zipps
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/30/2007
  WOW, Mark --

You are SO great at getting back to me and others with these questions. You ARE right, I do need to and plan to get a book that covers more of the legalities - time was an issue right now. I basically needed a quicker answer than I felt I would get through the self-education process as this particular gallery show needs to receive the art this Friday and I am working on editing a ton of photos from the actual performance as first priority for this same client.

MANY thanks for your wise counsel and information (good to know about the papparazzi - makes sense).

All the best - you rock!

Cris


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9/30/2008 8:56:11 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Hi Cris !!! Thanks very much for your complements. I appreciate them.

As to your immediate problem, you might be able to call your subjects and get a temporary, verbal or conditional release, conditioned on getting them a written release and their consideration (say a buck or two) within a couple of days to get you through the weekend. But remember, you need to contact the subjects directly by phone and tell them what you're using their images for and where they'll be. [Might even sell some prints that way]. But you need to follow-up with written releases.

Have a successful showing.
Mark


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9/30/2008 9:36:49 AM

 
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