Model release needed? US Law

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by ChipI, Jan 5, 2018.

  1. ChipI

    ChipI TPF Noob!

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    I am kicking around the idea of street photography. I have been reading tons of posts and watching tons of YouTube, but I cannot find a straight answer.

    Everyone says you can photograph in any public place with few restrictions. I see tons of photos of unique people, or crowds on the street. Do you need model releases if you want to sell as stock?? I can't imagine these photographers getting releases from some of the homeless, shady, or just grumpy people.


     
  2. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What do you hope to get from street photography? Money or recognition?

    If you intend to sell them as stock, are you expecting to recoup your own costs? Or more?

    If you sell photos or use them to promote your own business, it would seem logical to get a model release. The alternative is to be sued for infringement. Some of your subjects might be expecting to be paid for their release.

    Have you tried talking to the "homeless, shady, or just grumpy people"?
     
  3. ChipI

    ChipI TPF Noob!

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    IMO in order to make money you need to be recognized, or no one will buy your work.

    I thought selling stock may be a good place to start in order to hone my skills. recouping my costs would be great but making a little extra would be better. I understand that with the advent of shutterstock, istock, etc that stock isn't very profitable anymore.

    Being sued is certainly not my idea of fun!

    I'm not saying they are bad or disagreeable people. But I have watched several videos where a photographer taking candid shots gets confronted. It seems to me if you get a release first, the photo will appear more staged than candid.
     
  4. petrochemist

    petrochemist TPF junkie!

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    My understanding is that generally you can take photos in public places without restrictions but to PUBLISH them you will usually need a model release for anyone recognizable. The actual details will often vary by state/country, and even though it's legal photographing kids at a playground could get you lynched.

    From what I hear many stock companies will insist on a release even if one is not actually needed by law in your location.
     
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  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    It's best to get advice from a qualified attorney regarding legal matters related to model releases and other legal matters related to your photography, rather than from an online photography forum.

    In the US model release law is state law, so there are 50 somewhat different versions. Most states require the person in the photo be given something of value in exchange for them signing the release. A digital file of the photo, or a small print given after signing is usually sufficient.
    A model release is not needed to display, publish or sell street photography images that have people in them as long as the use is editorial.
    Nussenzweig v. DiCorcia - Wikipedia
    A model release is only needed if a person's likeness is used in a commercial context.

    Most stock houses won't accept images with people in them if the photographer does not have a valid model release on file for each recognizable person in an image. The stock house can't know in advance how an image will be used. But. It's the image user that needs to be most aware of if a release is or isn't needed.

    Privacy, not infringement, is related to model releases and use of someones likeness.
    Other photography case law - Case Law for Photography

    Or:
    A Digital Photographer's Guide to Model Releases: Making the Best Business Decisions with Your Photos of People, Places and Things
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
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  6. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Maybe there are reasons some of these people are 'grumpy' or in videos seem confrontational. How would you feel in those circumstances if somebody not only wants to take your picture but also has somebody with them recording video of you? Try to think about their perspective; just because they're out on public streets doesn't mean they want to be bothered.

    There's a difference between taking pictures and how you use them. You could take pictures for your personal use. Guidelines are that you would need releases signed for commercial use (business, ads, etc.) and for retail use (on merchandise, etc.). Usually for editorial use such as in a newspaper or other media outlet a release wouldn't be needed but may be requested. Since stock is for the purpose of making money and may end up in ads or other money making uses, I think releases would need to be signed. Try American Society of Media Photographers - Homepage or PPA for information. ASMP has a 'pocket' release and an app.

    I think what street photographers often do is take the photo(s), then take time to get acquainted with the person/people, maybe offer to buy them a sandwich or cup of coffee in exchange for signing a release and agreeing to allow their photo to be used. It doesn't seem like street photography is the best option for stock.

    It takes time for a photographer to build up a good reputation. If you want to make quick money photography is probably not the best option.
     

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