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Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Susan H.B. Waldrop

model releases

I have a new book called "Golden Days, Mostly on Martha's Vineyard," about my Golden Retrievers. I have informal model releases (emails) from significant people I know. The question is, am I required to get model releases from others in the book--some I know, some I don't. I am new at this business--the book started out as a kind of family documentary--but now people love it and want to buy it. Xlibris is ready to publish it on Amazon so I better have my facts straight.
One person, in particular, is hard to get a hold of, and is the kind of person who could cause trouble. A photographer friend suggested I put an add in the Vineyard Gazette notifying people of its publication.
I need good advice about what defines photos in the public domain, and what doesn't. It is not an educational book per se, but will sell partly because people want to show life on the Vineyard in the summer time.
Thanks so much for any help you can offer.
Susan Waldrop

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3/20/2012 6:09:49 AM

Thomas Schoeller
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/4/2006
  Hi Susan,
Yes, your best bet is to always get a model release. Usually easiest to do at the photo shoot, with the standard model release statement. It's possible in your case the images you created now being published may not have seemed so significant. This falls into the "what are the odds" category.

Normally, the publisher won't take any chances with any photographs that clearly show the persons identity (face) and will require you to produce the statement. This is fair and proper to protect the rights of the persons privacy. Anyone who is not easy to identify is generally safe. Usually-but not always the close-up shots are the ones to concern yourself with.

Stock agencies are also known for being punctual and requiring both property release and model releases.

I'm not so sure about placing an add in a small local paper. What is the point? Sales marketing, or to appear like the photos were accidental "oops".

Anyhow, back to your question. One statement you made keeps coming up in my mind over and over. "One person in particular............ and is the kind of person who could cause trouble." This shifts the odds out of your favor and puts you at risk. Even a verbal "OK" would put you at risk. I can say without hesitation from my viewpoint I would not move forward with this particular likeness of "one person,in particular" without a signed statement.
~Hope this helps :) Best, Thomas

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3/20/2012 5:14:07 PM

Susan H.B. Waldrop   Thank you so much for the advice...I will take it! One more question... Does a classification as an educational book make any difference? Is that a broad category or one limited to textbooks and the like?
Regards, Susan

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3/21/2012 10:08:43 AM

Thomas Schoeller
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/4/2006
  No, makes no difference. Still a publication. Ex: I know of wedding photogs who uploaded pics of wedding party members to their own website for public viewing and was forced to take them down by certain people who wished to not be published in a public manner. Still need permission, even for online publications. "News media" is the only genre of photography where someones photo may be published without a model release.....however it must be for a "newsworthy event".

Good read: "The Photographers Survival Manual- A legal guide for artist in the digital age" by Greenberg and Reznicki. 100% no bull, strait facts deliverd in an entertaining manner :)

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3/21/2012 2:26:40 PM

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