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Thread: Need model release, or not?

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    DH59's Avatar
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    Need model release, or not?

    Hi folks, not been around for a while, but currently trying to get my mojo working again!

    I've been asked to take some photos at a public event this weekend (roped in by my sister who belongs to this friends' group - not a charity, but all volunteers). There are crafts and events, and the Lord Mayor is making a visit, so there will be photos of the group with her, presumably, and of her looking round the event.

    They want to use the images for future publicity and on their website, so the organiser of the event is concerned that we get permission from parents of any children in the images, and has asked that I take model release forms. She also mentions that, "technically, we need permission from adults as well".

    I have read that in a public place any images taken of people do not need release forms signing. Perhaps for the Lord Mayor images, but even they could be classed as editorial. They are certainly not going to be used commercially.

    I have read all I can on the matter, and have printed off the Photographers' Rights information, but wondered what other opinions might be.

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    Re: Need model release, or not?

    Hi Diane,

    We seem to get these types of questions from time to time, and I don't know that there is an ideal answer - the bottom line is that ultimately it's a legal question, and we're all photographers, not lawyers - unfortunately (lawyers make a lot more money!).

    In many places, photos used for news are OK without releases, but as soon as I read that they want them for promotion, I immediately thought "grey area" - might be a moot point though, as the organiser has said they require them. If you're not being paid then I'd be inclined to say that "if they want them, they can get them".

    My gut feeling it that without a release you'd probably be OK legally, with the worst that's likely to happen is that someone sees their picture and wants it removed (so might pay to check with them first), but as we say "I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice!). Rather than get a hundred releases signed, it might just be easier to shoot without a release, and then approach the few who's images appear in the shots you want to keep?

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Need model release, or not?

    Hi Diane,

    I think* in the UK, it is largely the ownership/public place status of the land on which the images are taken that has the biggest impact, so as long as it is a public footpath, or council owned recreational area open to the public (possibly 24/7), then that bit can be ignored leaving you with the rights of the individual, which are reduced if it is such 'public' land.

    So in theory, if the land were private, but the use donated by the owner, or paid for by the group, that means something in writing from the landowner might be wise to cover that angle.

    However, if no-one 'using' the images is going to directly benefit financially (i.e. you be paid for them, or others pay for receiving them), then as it is a non-commercial (volunteer) group, I think you'll be OK.
    As Colin says, if someone objects - remove the image, easy on a website, but could be tricky (and involve cost**) if say, leaflets are printed.

    * I am not lawyer either; so these are all just my personally held beliefs only, not legal advice

    ** you don't want to be sued for this now you've been asked to get releases

    It's a minefield, and no mistake, which is why I have so far avoided it, but some day, I might be in your position.

    Chances are everything will be fine, but you never know, luck plays a very large part in these things.
    One avenue that might be worth exploring is if you have any photographic kit insurance, whether that policy covers you for this (**) kind of claim. For example, I know mine has indemnity cover if someone say, trips over my tripod while I'm out photographing.

    Cheers,

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    DH59's Avatar
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    Re: Need model release, or not?

    Thanks for the replies.

    It never actually happened in the end!

    The main organiser of the event turned out to be the local council (ring, ring of alarm bells). It therefore went from bad to worse regarding the requirements not to photograph 'certain' children, and there was mention of other groups holding similar events having photographers who are CRB checked. And apparently they announce that photographs are being taken, and anyone who wants to opt out has to get a sticker from the organisers.

    The group I was going to photograph had obviously not defined their photo policy properly, so it was decided to leave it this time. The lady who runs this volunteer group works for the council, and therefore should have known that she needed to get something organised, rather than just expecting me to sort everything out by turning up with release forms.

    Even though the council photographic policy is to be adhered to, it is, predictably, over the top when it comes to what the law actually allows in regard to photography in public places.

    The photographs would be shared between the council and the local group, for promotion mainly for these free public events and to promote the volunteer group, so they would not have been income-generating. However, the group organiser was, I think, under the impression that the images would just be handed over for them to do with what they pleased. I don't think she quite grasped that I was going to lay down certain terms and conditions on their use, and retain copyright. She did say that previous photographers have been happy to hand over the images, as long as they were not being used for profit.

    All in all, I will stay away from this type of thing in future!

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