Legal Issues regarding model use?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by ramona, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. ramona

    ramona TPF Noob!

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    I am a photography student that took pictures of my roommate in our apartment as well as in public places. Currently, 2 years later, we are not exactly on good terms and she recently emailed me saying that I needed to remove all the pictures that have her in them from my portfolio website. I don't have a model release form, as I never would have even thought about that in those days.
    Am I stuck having to remove the photos? If it was one or two or even three photos I wouldn't mind removing the images. However, the images of her comprise almost my whole "portraits" portfolio, which is why I'm at least trying to find out if I have any hope of keeping them up.
    Additionally, do things change if she's not recognizable? In some of the photos her face is not shown or she is largely obscured.
    Any advice would be much appreciated!
     
  2. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    YES!

    Sorry. Consider this a lesson learned. Always get a release, no matter how friendly you are today.
     
  3. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Oops!

    I may have responded too fast. What is this portfolio of yours? Commercial or fine art?

    If Fine Art you could tell her to go to hell.

    If commercial in any way, remove them.
     
  4. ramona

    ramona TPF Noob!

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    It is fine art! I'm not selling them or publishing them. Just for use on my website.
     
  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Does she have the financial means to file suit? The sure thing to do is consult with an attorney familar with model release laws in your state. There are 50 different versions.

    If you are just showing "your" images online you do not need a model release.

    If you are using the images to promote yourself in a commercial sense, you need a model release for each image or a model release that covers specific dates or a date range that encompasses a time period.

    More and more stock house now require a model release even if a persons face is obscured and/or people are not recognizable.

    The images you made in the apartment could be problematic as an attorney could claim she had "a reasonable expectation of privacy."

    You could try to get a date ranged model release from her before the situation deteriorates anymore.

    Where is it you're a photography student?
     
  6. ramona

    ramona TPF Noob!

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    I'm in Chicago. I never planned on gaining anything from the images in a commercial sense. Simply want them to appear in my portfolio website as an example of portraiture that I've done.
    As for the images taken in our apartment, she was a willing participant, she's also a photo student, and the images require the use of studio lighting, so in that way I think that it becomes clear that privacy was not an expectation.
     
  7. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    The fact that she was a willing participant means absolutely NOTHING!

    Sorry.

    Now, you say it is fine art but then, to KmH, you're talking about examples of portraiture on your website. What kind of portraiture? The kind you get paid for or the kind you hope somebody is going to buy (although probably not) because it is art?

    It makes a huge difference and you need to be honest about this. Not for me or for KmH, but for your checking account...
     
  8. ramona

    ramona TPF Noob!

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    Okay, to clarify:
    Not looking to get portrait commissions or even sell it as fine art. I am mostly a landscape based photographer, so I simply wanted a section that would show that I can do other things. You could say as a way to show off, but not to make profit from. I took them because I was in a studio shooting class and had to do it, ended up happy with the result and would like for it to be on my site in an attempt to showcase versatility.
    I am not looking to become a portrait photographer. I am a project-based photographer that simply wants to exhibit (and only exhibit my actual projects, not miscellaneous portraiture).
     
  9. ghpham

    ghpham TPF Noob!

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    Yes, but since you are showing them off to show your other talents, it could be construed as advertising. If someone hired you for portraiture based on those pictures, you will be in trouble.
     
  10. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Sorry, I'm not really sure what this means and maybe some other members will chime in but...

    1/ Portraits have nothing to do with landscapes so, just get rid of them. It seems like the easiest thing to do.

    2/ I have yet to see a member of this forum raise his/her hand and say: I am a lawyer specialized in photography. None of us are lawyers and anything we tell you is only worthwhile as a vague idea of the law. You want a straight answer, talk to a lawyer. One that knows the arts... Anybody else is useless.

    3/ Do you need to decide what it is you want to do? As I said, portraits don't have much to do with landscapes so, if you are promoting landscapes, who needs portraits on the website? If you want to show that you can do something besides landscapes, fine, but find something that doesn't land you into a legal quagmire.

    I wish I could say something that goes more along with "what you seem to want" but I can't.
     
  11. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'm no lawyer....

    Technically, I don't think she has any grounds to 'make' you take down the photos. You took the shots, therefore you own them.
    So unless she can prove that the photos are causing her actual damage, I don't think she has any case at all.

    Model Releases
     

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