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Photography Question 

Legal Use of Photo in Portfolio and Web Site

What are the "rules(legal)" for using photographs in my portfolio or on my Web site? If it was my shoot, don't I have the right to use those photos for my business? For example: hanging in a studio, posting in portfolio on Web site, in a book portfolio ... basically however I want, with the exception of selling as stock or to a third party? Can I use my work in my advertising without compensation or permission from the subject?

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4/23/2005 1:58:53 PM


BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003
  Every session you shoot should involve the client signing a contract granting you those permissions. If you're not shooting paying clients, you still need to get that. That's the legality.
You can post anything you want. However, without people agreeing, you could run into a problem at some point. I'm not sure what the damage would be other than to take the image down. It kind of depends on the situation.

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4/25/2005 4:50:24 AM

William Koplitz   It's all about publishing. You can show anything to anyone in a portfolio presentation, it's not publishing, your ethics are your only restriction.

The web is publishing and follows the same rules. You may own the copyright but you will also need a release.

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4/26/2005 5:49:33 AM

Scott Pedersen   When my Uncle was doing advertising he would occcasionaly use one of us as subjects, even if it was only a hand in the photograph he had us sign a release. So get them to sign the release.

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4/27/2005 4:08:18 AM

David King   Let me reinforce the admonistion to always, ALWAYS, get a release. For one thing you may not think at the time you want to use the shot but if it truly is portfolio quality you may find it fitting a project or stock collection someday. However, there is another consideration. We used to argue that personal portfolio use was not "commercial." That has been a defense ripped apart in court. If you are using that portfolio for the purpose of getting work then the images DO have a value and you are exploiting them for your personal gain. It might be indirect as opposed to direct (i.e. in image sales) but it is still a value you are deriving from the use of the image of someone else.

It's not worth the risk, and most professional buyers won't accept the shot without the release.


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4/27/2005 7:34:34 AM

Fritz Geil   I will agree that it is best to get a signed release. However, the legalities of the matter are that you can use any photograph you have taken to advertise for yourself without a release. This is to say that you can use them in a printed or online portfolio, or on business cards, or on posters/billboards advertising your business. You can not sell or publish these images for any other purpose, nor for financial gain, without a signed model release. This also goes for inanimate objects owned by another person. If you wish to use images of this object for any purpose other than your own advertising, then you must get a release from the owner.


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4/27/2005 10:52:30 AM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/15/2004
  Is there a good source out there for good release examples? I really hate to reinvent the wheel, and would like to have some idea of what should be included in the release.


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4/28/2005 7:30:46 AM

Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/2/2002
  Hi guys, I know this is an old thread, but I'm in the middle of this issue right now and wanted to add this...

I have a website, and some former friends of mine whose images I have posted on my site (I have a small portrait business) are telling me it's illegal b/c I don't have releases for them.

I asked the corporate attorney at my office and this is what she said for New York State:
NYS Civil Rights Law section 50 provides that A person, firm or corporation that uses for advertising purposes, or for the purposes of trade, the name, portrait or picture of any living person without having first obtained the written consent of such person, or if a minor of his or her parent or guardian, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

So she recommended to me that I only use images on my website that I have releases for. That puts me in quite a pickle :( but just wanted to put it out there for anyone else wondering.

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1/13/2006 10:50:11 AM

Craig  Paulsen   Most people give you a chance to take down their photo if you don't have a signed release. Be nice to them, tell them your sorry and that you'll take it down immediately. Sometimes if you tell them how much people compliment and love the shot they let you leave it on the web site. Then there are others who want money(monthly checks) for the help of advertising. I just let them know "The Company" wouldn't approve of it, never say "I" then it seems personal.

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1/13/2006 12:00:28 PM

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