model release, copyright law?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by kkamin, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    Hello I am confused a bit my copyright law, pertaining to a commercial photographers rights.

    1. SInce I am the owner of the copyright, I have the right to reproduce the image and manipulate the image to my liking, right?

    2. But then I need a model release to use the image for commercial gain, correct?

    3. If #2 is true, what if I take a photo of a guest at a wedding, or a large group shot at a wedding and want to use it for self-promotion. I've seen large group shots of weddings and I doubt the photographer chased everyone down to get a release.

    4. If #2 is true again and I am hired to take a portrait of some kind, is it standard to have photographers make clients sign mandatory releases?

    Thanks everyone, I'm learning a lot from all of you. Your responses have been very generous.
     
  2. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    1. Yes

    2. Not quite. Commercial gain means for advertising purposes in the law.
    You could get money from the photo in an editorial or artistic use which
    would not classify as for "commercial gain".

    3. The wedding guest was at what would classify as a public place, ie
    church, hall, etc. so you could use it for self-promotion assuming that
    it is a reasonably flattering shot of the guest.

    4. In some areas/countries if someone commissions a portrait of
    themselves to be taken the situation becomes an employer/employee
    relationship in which the employer owns the rights to the portrait but
    many such laws include statements such as "barring contracts to the
    contrary". This is the reason for the need by the photographer
    of mandatory releases in a formal portrait job.


    Hope this info. helps.

    skieur
     
  3. CSR Studio

    CSR Studio TPF Noob!

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    Skieur is right. I put the release into the contract for the job that I am doing. Always have a written contract for any job, no matter how small.
     
  4. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    On the topic of 3 and 4.

    For 3 you can often use it for self promotion since a portfolio is artistic use. You cannot however take the photo, slap your logo on it and put it onto a billboard or in a magazine without a model release. The rule of thumb is: showing someone a picture you took, or selling them a picture is perfectly within your right, having your subject endorse a product is not.

    4. This often falls into the contract itself. A model release is nothing more than a contract. If the contract already specifically states who owns copyright then nothing more is needed. It would be very strange to have 2 contracts though. If contracted for a firm to photograph a selection of models, then make sure it's in the contract that whoever contracted you provides you with all the necessary release documents BEFORE the shoot.

    Also an extention of Skieur's comment it can go either way as well. If someone contracts you to take portraits of them with the intention of them keeping final copyright then put it into the contract (and bill him for giving up the copyrights accordingly).

    Just from a straight out high-school formal portrait example, The local chain of formal photographers charged us somewhere between 20-50 for various prints of various sizes. But the option was there that we could buy the original full sized file along with copyrights for several hundred bucks.

    Caveat Emptor: Laws change between countries.
     
  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    In the US, copyright law is federal law. www.copyright.gov

    Model and property release laws are state laws, so there are 50 somewhat different US versions.

    Canadian and American copyright laws have some significant differences concerning 'work for hire' situations.

    103 countries have signed the Berne Convention giving copyright law a sort of, world-wide framework.
     
  6. qpme

    qpme TPF Noob!

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    I would tend to agree with this advice. Further advice might be obtained on a legal forum. There are many instances where copyrights may or may not be violated and sometimes it is a fine line that must be decided by a person.
     
  7. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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