Release needed for portfolio?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by c_lawrence, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. c_lawrence

    c_lawrence TPF Noob!

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    So, I've read through many threads on TPF and many other sites online and have learned a lot about model and property releases. However, one question I can't seem to find a concrete answer to is whether model and property releases are required when using a photo in a portfolio (both hardcopy and online). I know there are a lot of readers who have an 'idea' or 'opinion' or 'think' they know the answer - and as much as I enjoy hearing from everyone - it would really be helpful if someone KNOWS this answer... maybe has consulted an attorney or has an attorney friend... or IS an attorney ;).

    Most importantly... I am in the USA - Georgia - so answers specific to this country/state would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks
     
  2. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    What you have indicated is too vague. It depends on the circumstances related to the photo, taking of it, subject, background, whether model is identifiable, the property is identifiable etc. etc. Any answer without more specifics would be a generalization that may not fit the particular circumstances.

    skieur
     
  3. c_lawrence

    c_lawrence TPF Noob!

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    I have several photos in question... here are a few examples:

    1. Child playing in state park, identifiable, natural background
    2. Horse (with partial rider showing... legs only) with UGA symbol patched on saddle pad - taken at a UGA event, jumps in arena in background and all else blurred
    3. Neighbor's pet portrait
    4. Local band in concert... some individuals identifiable, thus, 'band' identifiable
    5. Animals in zoo setting (no people)
    6. 'Random' people on public street setting with public buildings in background
    7. Cemtary photo... think all cemetaries are private?... the photo is of daffodils in bloom with gravesite blurred in background (no names visible although the cemetary may be identifiable to those who know it...?)

    I know there's a lot... any info would be helpful.

    I also want to reiterate that I do not have any intetions on selling these for advertising or commercial purposes - I will watermark all that are posted online so no one will be able to copy and repost as advertisement, etc (of course the latter would be illegal, but just to evade the potential hassles...). Simply put, I only want to use the photos in my portfolio as a respresentation of my capabilities as a photographer.

    Thanks
     
  4. John_Olexa

    John_Olexa No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    http://www.asmp.org/

    A release is a written agreement between you and the person you are photographing, or the person who owns the property you are photographing. The purpose of the release is to protect you from any future lawsuits the person might file for claims such as defamation and invasion of privacy. A model release says the person being photographed has given consent to be photographed and to the use of the images you capture. It doesn’t just apply to professional models or situations where people know they are posing for photos. You should seek to get a signed model release any time that your photos contain recognizable images of people, unless you are certain that you will never want to use them for anything other than editorial purposes. A property release says that the owner of a certain property, such as a pet or a building, has given you consent to take and use images of the property. You don’t need one for public property, such as government buildings (although you may run into problems just from photographing them, for security reasons). But for images of private property — and particularly of objects that are closely identified with specific people — you are safer if you get a release.
    The releases you obtain should be saved forever and should be linked in some way with the photographs to which they relate. You can expect to be asked to produce them whenever you license an image, and you will need them if you ever have to defend yourself in court.
    The Right of Privacy

    Although the laws of the 50 states vary, all states recognize that individuals have a right to be let alone in their daily lives and that harm (in the form of embarrassment, scorn or loss of status) can result if that right is violated.However, the right of privacy is not absolute. In particular, the courts have long held that news reporting and social, political and economic commentary — the things the First Amendment was designed to protect — are more valuable to society than an individual’s right to be let alone. Therefore, images that are part of the public colloquy about events have usually been exempt from privacy lawsuits. In contrast, the courts have generally held that making money is distinctly less valuable to society than the right to be let alone.
    Thus, privacy issues typically arise when an image is used for purposes of trade or advertising. That is, it’s not the picture, but how it is used that determines the need for a release. For instance, an image that is printed in a newspaper, shown in an exhibition or reproduced in a book might well be immune from a privacy suit. But the commercial sale of coffee mugs or t-shirts with the same image would probably not enjoy such protection. An advertisement almost certainly would not be immune.
    Therefore, if you are on an advertising assignment, you will need to collect releases from every person in your shots. News assignments are a little trickier. You are always better off if you have permission to photograph your subjects and can prove it. But it’s not always possible to get permission and, in the U.S., you can report the news without it. Lacking a release, however, you are limited in how you can license the image later on.
    These days, even editorial clients are requiring releases — and releases using their specific forms — with more and more frequency.
     
  5. Peanuts

    Peanuts TPF Noob!

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    Here is my view on what you have listed

    1. Child playing in state park, identifiable, natural background Don't use pictures of children that you don't know and don't have signed release for in your portfolio. You don't want his/her grandmother's aunt's dog's previous owner's cousin finding it somewhere on the net and sending the relatives after you (unfortunately how it sometimes works today)
    2. Horse (with partial rider showing... legs only) with UGA symbol patched on saddle pad - taken at a UGA event, jumps in arena in background and all else blurred No release. If they have a problem with it, well, that would surprise me
    3. Neighbor's pet portrait Well, you probably don't need a release but just ask permission
    4. Local band in concert... some individuals identifiable, thus, 'band' identifiable Yes to release
    5. Animals in zoo setting (no people) No
    6. 'Random' people on public street setting with public buildings in background Technically if they can identify themselves then you should have a model release form. I was listening to a lecture by a NG photographer and he mentioned how before he goes anywhere he has someone translate a similar release form into the local language and have it signed. If they are illiterate (remote tribes lets say) he will still have the release form but will have a translator and explain and just ask for some marking on the paper. That being said, I wouldn't be too concerned however...
    7. Cemtary photo... think all cemetaries are private?... the photo is of daffodils in bloom with gravesite blurred in background (no names visible although the cemetary may be identifiable to those who know it...?)Honestly not sure. I would lean towards no but...
     
  6. c_lawrence

    c_lawrence TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the input thus far.

    Anyone else have any knowlede on this topic with regard to Portfolio use?
     
  7. lifeafter2am

    lifeafter2am TPF Noob!

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    From the Photo Attorney:
     
  8. c_lawrence

    c_lawrence TPF Noob!

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    So... would a portfolio (both hardcopy and online) be considered under 'editorial'? Anyone know?

    ... I agree completely! ...I am always glad to hear about cases in which the First Admendment is actually upheld! Very interesting... thanks for the post, I had not heard about that one before.
     
  9. lifeafter2am

    lifeafter2am TPF Noob!

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    I don't see how it wouldn't be if an actual display in an art show would be!
     
  10. c_lawrence

    c_lawrence TPF Noob!

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    Good point...:roll:... didn't think of it that way... sometimes you just need an outside perspective - THANKS!
     
  11. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    My view:

    1. Child playing in state park, identifiable, natural background: These days an identifiable child in an identifiable park could lead to a predator danger.
    I would only consider using it, if the location was totally anonymous.

    2. Horse (with partial rider showing... legs only) with UGA symbol patched
    on saddle pad - taken at a UGA event, jumps in arena in background and all else blurred - No, participant in a public event.

    3. Neighbor's pet portrait I would agree with Peanuts. Just ask permission.
    4. Local band in concert... some individuals identifiable, thus, 'band' identifiable - Yes.
    5. Animals in zoo setting (no people) No
    6. 'Random' people on public street setting with public buildings in background - No, if not used for advertising and if the person is not doing something inappropriate like picking their nose.
    7. Cemetary photo... think all cemetaries are private?... the photo is of daffodils in bloom with gravesite blurred in background (no names visible although the cemetary may be identifiable to those who know it...?)- I would say No since a person is not involved.

    As to property, the general answer is no but there are some exceptions.
    A generic photo of the outside of a barn in a pretty scenic would be no problem. A photo of a very run down property that everyone knows is owned by a local celebrity could get you into trouble. Identifying the location of the property too specifically could also be problematic.

    I don't remember all the specifics but a photo of a classic maritime house in a coffee table book that also indicated its location led to, according to the owner his privacy being invaded by numerous tourists constantly shooting photos around his house. Indicating the location was not a wise move by the photographer. The owner was seeking damages.

    skieur


     
  12. Fiendish Astronaut

    Fiendish Astronaut TPF Noob!

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    I'm not a lawyer but I don't agree that you need permission to show an image of a band performing. If you had permission to photograph a band in the first place what do the band think is going to happen to the images? These photos can end up in national newspapers and internationally sold magazines without somebody having to reapproach the band/record label to ask them to sign a release! Go to Flickr and look up the hundreds of thousands of live music pictures. Is every one of those illegal? You must be joking! My portfolio is online and in printed copy - I don't believe I have to get any release form to use those images.

    I might as well pack up and go home if I need to get permission for all my pictures...
     

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