model release question

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Dew, Sep 11, 2003.

  1. Dew

    Dew TPF Noob!

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    if someone has paid u to do a headshot/portriat/other ... do u have them sign a model release? ... what if they refuse? ... is it "standard" procedure?
     
  2. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    If you ever intend to make money off the showing or publishing of a portrait of someone, you should get a release.

    I don't remember the site address, but there is a photographers' law site out there somewhere.
     
  3. metroshane

    metroshane TPF Noob!

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    You don't need a release to take the pic, but you do need one to publish or use that pic.
     
  4. Dew

    Dew TPF Noob!

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    what if i want to use the photo just for my portfolio and not sell it .. do i still need a release?
     
  5. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    If you take the pic, you own the copyright. You can definately show it in your portfolio. As I understand it (which may not be very well at all), even if you were to publish or sell the photo without a release, the most they could do is sue for a portion of the profit, or sue you for damages if it was somehow deemed slanderous or damaging to them. The main reason to get the model release is so when you become a rich and famous photographer, you don't have to pay your subjects any of the extravagant moola you'll be earning off posters and coffee table books.
     
  6. metroshane

    metroshane TPF Noob!

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    Wrong. I'm sure you had good intentions, but please don't spread eronius facts. Your description is more fitting for a property release.

    Here's the breakdown for people.

    Editorial - no release needed
    Commercial - which your portfolio is since your are trying to make money with it - release always required.
    Art - release required only if subject is recognizable.

    Property -

    editorial - none needed
    Art/commercial - there are no strict laws requiring a release, but most people agree it's extra protection and many buyers just prefer you have it.

    If you had the Photographer's market :lol: you'd have all the info you need. Infact, here is an (editorial) excerpt...

    I bolded a very important part. If you have a model sign a release without giving them something in return (no matter how small), it may not hold up in court.
     
  7. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I did a web search on model releases and portfolio use. Wow, no one seems to be able to agree on what the law really states, although most agree that obtaining a release is a good practice.

    So I called my photographer buddy at the local newspaper, and he refered me to their lawyer. The lawyer told me that in theory using photos in your print portfolio could be considered advertising, but that the court would have to rule that showing it to potential clients constitutes publication. He was unaware of this ever happening.

    On the other hand, he felt that there were plenty of examples of litigation involving photos with a legitimate model release. He said that any decent lawyer can get around any model release. So a model release is by no means absolute protection.

    Another issue is whether you are producing a commercial product or "fine art". The lawyer told me that as long as long as I (the artist) am the only one with the reproduction rights, then I don't need a release even if I sell 1000 prints. If I want to sell reproduction rights to another party or put a commercial logo on the prints, then I need a release.

    He also said that no matter what the law, no lawyer is going to sue without substantial return guaranteed. And in my case, at least, good luck squeezing blood from a turnip, snicker.

    So anyway, are you confused yet? I am. I'll probably try to work some sort of model release into my contracts in the future, but I'm not going to worry about the photos already in my portfolio. My main concern is with this statement "keep in mind that a legally binding contract must involve consideration, the exchange of something of value". So I have to pay my client a few bucks to use the photos they just paid me $300 to take? I guess I could raise my rates, and then claim a discount if they sign the model release.





    Gary Winnogrand's or Henri Cartier-Bresson's
     
  8. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Whoops! Some how I cut off that last bit. I was just wondering if any of the folks in Gary Winnogrand's or Henri Cartier-Bresson's books signed model releases. :D
     
  9. metroshane

    metroshane TPF Noob!

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    Glad he's not my attorney. :wink:

    Here's more info than you probably wanted, but feel free to read.

    http://photography.about.com/gi/dyn...tp://www.simslaw.com/model/model_releases.htm

    You are very correct in your statement that the no one can agree. Remember the law is written to be interpreted, and is rarely clearly defined. A model release will never entirely protect you but sure is handy. So given that you have to weigh the consequences. When you're broke like most of us, the cost of one law suit could easily shut down our business and put us in overwhelming debt...even if you win. I sure can't afford to hire a lawyer to fight anything. Attorneys aren't all knowing, so you really have to do your research. Remember, in every law suit, one lawyer loses.

    I'd avice the attorney to reconsider this. If Dew were to put some of her street photography on a cafe wall (even if she's not being paid), and say it was a pic of a man and his mistress...or someone moonlighting...which could result in a marital conflict or dismissal by his boss....then you can sure as hell bet you'll have a law suit. Or say it's a gay bar...then the subject of the pic could say that the circumstances insinuated that he was gay.....it's very tricky.
     
  10. metroshane

    metroshane TPF Noob!

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    absolutely. It doesn't matter as long as it's one dollar as long as it's spelled out. You have to be really careful with what you do with people's images.
     
  11. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    "it was a pic of a man and his mistress...or someone moonlighting...which could result in a marital conflict or dismissal by his boss....then you can sure as hell bet you'll have a law suit. Or say it's a gay bar...then the subject of the pic could say that the circumstances insinuated that he was gay....."

    Absolutely, then they would be able to claim that the public display of the photo is damaging. There is no doubt about this. I ran into many examples siting these, and similar situations.

    When I photograph my clients I always make it clear that I would like to use some of the photos for my portfolio. Usually they are very flattered, and consider being included in my portfolio as a sign that I'm giving them my very best effort. I would never go against a client's wishes, or place any photos of a troublesome client in my portfolio. Also I have never included work that I have been paid for in shows.

    I'm trying to imagine how I'm going to get the model releases signed for a several hundred person wedding, yet obviously pro photogs' portfolios are filled with wedding and reception shots that include many of the wedding guests. As it is, everytime I show my contract to a different lawyer, they find something different wrong with it; I've rewritten it six times.

    Rats! I should have been a rich lawyer instead of a poor photographer.
     
  12. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    You get to set your own rates. If you normally charge "X" dollars plus the use of the photos (<--with the appropriate releases, contracts, etc... :wink: ) for a portrait session, then if the client doesn't want to allow you the use of the photographs your rate may go to three times "X" dollars. I found several photographers whose rate jumps to ten times their normal fee if the client won't sign a model release.

    There is no reason for you to do it for anything less than you think you deserve whether you charge $20 or $20,000.
     

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