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[OM] Re: Model Release required? Book idea

Subject: [OM] Re: Model Release required? Book idea
From: "John A. Lind" <jalind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 18 Apr 2005 01:11:48 -0500
At 12:29 AM 4/18/2005, you wrote:

>I am glad that you brought up the subject of model release as it is
>something that has confused me for a while.
>What decides whether or not you will need a model release?  I recognise
>that a human subject fully recognisable and by themselves in a
>photograph in a publication for sale would need a model release to
>obviate any future claims for fees, but what if the subject were
>multiple and in a street scene?

I'm not an attorney; what follows is my less than thorough knowledge on the 
matter.  It is, however, what I personally use as a guide in the U.S.

A book of that nature would generally fall under 1st Amendment in the U.S. 
as a "work of art" (or actually a collection of works) and I don't believe 
anything would be required of a candid "street scene" in a public place 
where people don't have any expectation of "privacy" and in the type of 
location where photographs are commonly made (at the exact same location 
isn't a necessary requirement).  However, a setup or posed one might 
depending on who the subject is; family generally isn't a 
problem.  Regarding just being reconizable, the park scene that was just 
published had two people in it.  In terms of being "recognizable" it's on 
the edge . . . they're big enough, but their backs are to the 
camera.  Someone who knows them well might be able to recognize 
them.  AFIK, the laws are fuzzy regarding how recognizable someone must 
be.  However, it's a public place (state owned park) and people use cameras 
there routinely.  (Being printed in a newspaper article about the park 
obviates all of that under the Constitution's 1st Amendment.)  "Commercial 
use" which has the greatest requirements for model releases generally 
applies to photographs that will be used for advertising or other 
commercial purposes by a company, corporation, etc.  In a special case of 
this, a model release is generally sought if a wedding photograph is to be 
used for publicly advertising the photographer's services in the studio 
window or in newspaper ads.  Some studios have this built into the contract 
to shoot the wedding (e.g. a short clause that some photos may be used for 
future advertising by the studio).

The laws are different in other countries, especially regarding what would 
be considered a "public place" in the U.S., and where, when and how photos 
can be used without model releases.  There are also some TOPE shots that 
are obviously posed . . . which is why I raised the potential for a few to 
require them . . . something to check out first.  I consider immediate 
family members a non-issue, especially minor children of the photogapher 
(parents of minors grant model releases).

-- John Lind

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