Why I don't need a form release?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by adichiru, May 29, 2012.

  1. adichiru
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    adichiru New Member

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    Hello,

    I have been wondering a lot about when I need and when I don't need a form release in order to publish or sell a picture and I have read and heard many answers, 99% of them were approximate, unclear or even stupid.
    I have however been following Scott Kelby land he was on a trip to India a few months ago. Came bank and publish many pictures with people, even portraits. I asked him if he actually has a release form for each an every picture and he said no I don't because I don't need to. I can't explain here why so don't ask me but you can find out in my courses.....
    I am not going to buy those courses for this reason only and also I am not sure that those courses are universally valid - I have seen many materials that apply to US mostly so in many cases almost irrelevant.

    Does anyone know why he (or anyone else) would not need a from release signed by the people in the photos you would take (while on holiday .... or)?

    Most of them were outside and around Taj Mahal or on the street.

    Thank you,
    Adi
  2. Henrycrafter
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    Henrycrafter New Member

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    Because there are sue happy attorneys out there that are always on the look out for anything that even hints of "violation of expectation of privacy"
  3. tirediron
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    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member

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    I would assume either (1) Because he's claiming journalistic license (generally speaking journalistic images don't require release), and/or (2) because he's not using them commercially, that is, he is not using them to advertise a product or service.
  4. adichiru
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    adichiru New Member

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    He was using them commercially. As far as I know, from some "unofficial" discussions with a layer with lots of years of experience in copyright and intellectual property stuff, if you use them on your own website and that website offers services/products it means you use them commercially. Also, it seems that if your name is also your photography business' brand and you use these kind of pictures on different sites related to your name/brand (facebook, G+ etc.) it also means you are using them commercially.

    The journalistic license is a good idea. I will look into that.

    Thanks,
  5. manaheim
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    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member

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  6. tirediron
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    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member

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    Canadian and US IP law treat the definition of 'commercial' very differently. It also depends on how you display them. A gallery of images on your website is not necessarily commerical if it is not be used to specifically advertise your services, HOWEVER, there is no black and white in law. There is also the simple fact that the legal beagles may have done the risk mitigation and decided that they were unlikely to get sued by anyone from India.
  7. jake337
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    jake337 Well-Known Member

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  8. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    Jake - Yes. The qualifier is "controlled conditions", which defines when a model is there knowingly to pose. Some other factors are - if you are being paid to shoot, or if the shoot is done in private.

    As tirediron mentions, release law isn't as cut and dried as laws like, say, traffic laws.

    And again, when the term 'commercial use' is used, that is referrring to the legal definition of 'commercial use'. I can sell prints of photos with people in them as art and it is legally considered an 'editorial use' until I start distributing the prints in large quantities, which at some un-specified quantity becomes 'commercial use'.

    Here in the USA release law varies by state, and there are 50 somewhat differing versions, whereas copyright law is federal law.

    The most recent issue of Photoshop User magazine, in it's regular "The Copyright Zone' colume written by attorney Ed Greenburg, and Photographer Jack Resnicki, they mention a recent stock photography lecture by Bill Bachmann they attended. Bachmann notes that as he travels around the world making photographs, he ALWAYS gets a release, be it from a monk in Tibet, a native boy in the African bus, or anyone else.

    So you can see there are 2 ends to the spectrum and many other approaches in between.

    The bottom line is this - A photo that is released is more valuable for commercial usage, than a photo that isn't released.

    For those that are in the US, I highly recommend this inexpensive book - A Digital Photographer's Guide to Model Releases: Making the Best Business Decisions with Your Photos of People, Places and Things
    Last edited: May 30, 2012
  9. jake337
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    jake337 Well-Known Member

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    So pretty much it may or may not be needed but it's always a good idea to cross your T's and dot your I's.
  10. tirediron
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    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member

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    ^^Pretty much this, exactly!
  11. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    No doubt! It is better to have a valid release on file, than to not have one.

    A common practice for retail photographers is to just include a release clause in their contract.
  12. adichiru
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    adichiru New Member

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    I find that VERY hard to believe but I am not yet familiar with Bill Bachmann's photography style. When I am in a moving tuk-tuk in Thailand and see a very interesting image should I stop the tuk-tuk and also everyone else that got into that picture or chace them on the street to take the release? If he does that than I will never shoot people again in my life!
    However, if you see travel photography more like a mobile studio photography you may be able to do it as Bachmann says. Then again that is not travel photography and you WILL definitely loose moments, expressions and many other things soooo important to photography of any kind.

    Anyway, thank all of you for the info and links!
  13. Tony S
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    Tony S New Member

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    Get your legal advice from an attorney, not everyone who has an opinion and the ability to post on the internet. Releases and copyrights are the two most misunderstood, misinformed and mis-stated subjects you can find on an internet forum.
  14. manaheim
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    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member

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    This too. :)
  15. orljustin
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    orljustin Active Member

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    You certainly don't need releases to display your vacation images online in any form.
  16. DanPower
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    DanPower New Member

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    Very interesting words here. I am at the tail end of a dispute which, while it doesn't relate to model releases, has taught me to be very careful about permissions and keeping things on file.

    This sound like very sage advice.

    I have learnt that license and permission mean nothing unless they are written down, on paper, and signed by either the copyright holder or the model (or both) depending on the situation. I have started to carry printed model releases with me in the unlikely event that I get a cracker shot of someone.... it might be overkill, but in our increasingly litigious society it's necessary. And I'm just an amateur.... but maybe that's part of it, I don't have a legal team to sort my stuff out, so I need clear written contracts... someone like Kelby with a team of crack lawyers can shoot whatever he wants and they'll take care of it....

    *shrug* I think getting a release is better than not getting one. It takes a couple of minutes to go up to someone and say 'hey, I'm a photographer and I got this amazing candid photo of you, would you mind signing this release?" but it could save you DAYS of work if there is a dispute........

    Like I said I'm a total amateur but from the issue I've had, this is what I've learnt.

    Last edited: May 31, 2012
  17. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    You think the authors or Bachmann lied - in print?
  18. adichiru
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    adichiru New Member

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    I think that "ALWAYS" was not used wisely. They may not have lied but I can give you numerous examples of situations in which you just can't get a release form signed; for example, because you cannot get to that person that needs to sing it. The only solution would be probably not to use that image.... which is really stupid if you ask me.
  19. adichiru
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    adichiru New Member

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    Why is this a certainty ?

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