A Digital Photographer's Guide to Model ReleasesMaking the Best Business Decisions with Your Photos of People, Places and Things
Do you need a release for a photo of someone you took in public? How about photos of buildings? Does it make a difference if the subject was paid to be in the picture? You can't answer these questions without more information. As the photographer, you need to understand your buyer's concerns in order to make savvy decisions about how you market your photos and to whom. Here's how to make money from all your photos, whether or not they have releases, by understanding the business aspects of the law.
INTRODUCTION: HOW WE GOT HERE 1 PART 1: EVERYONE’S DOING IT. SO WHAT’S WRONG? 9 Preempting Misinformation 12 How to Think About Model Releases 24 Hey, You’re Not a Lawyer 28 Remember: It’s Just Business 32 Working with Your Clients’ Lawyers 36 PART 2: WHAT’S A MODEL RELEASE? 41 Getting on the Same Page 44 Who is Responsible? 51 Litigation in a Nutshell 56 Minimizing Your Involvement 63 The Licensee’s Responsibility 69 How was the Image Acquired? 70 Was the Release Status Understood? 72 The Practical Approach 77 The Role of Ethics 82 War Stories from the Muddy Middle 83 When the Best Intentions Go Awry 84 Pay the Quarter to Avoid the Parking Ticket 86 The Bottom Line in Business 88PART 3: UNDERSTANDING “USE” 93 Defining “Publishing” 97 Understanding Commercial Use 103 Understanding Editorial Use 106 Satire and Humor 108 Artwork 110 Blurred Lines 112 The Perils of Publicizing 114 Self-Publishing and Self-Promotion 126 PART 4: ANALYZING THE NEED FOR A MODEL RELEASE 131 Risk Analysis: The Three Key Questions 131 How is the Photo to be Used? 133 Is the Subject Clearly Recognizable? 134 How Did You Take the Picture? 136 Model Releases and Compensation 145 PART 5: DISSECTING A MODEL RELEASE 151 Contract Authorship and the Spectrum of Risk 154 Your Own Model Release 158 Boilerplates Gone Bad 159 A Simple Sample Model Release 162 Revising a Release 166 Considerations for Editorial Uses 171 PART 6: DEALING WITH PHOTOS OF PROPERTY 173 Understanding Copyrights 180 Copyrights Protect Expression 180 When Being Inspired Is Not Copying 183 Establishing Copyright 189 Understanding Trademarks 192 Trademarks Protect Identity 192 Limits to Trademark Protection 195Assessing Value 198 Implications for Model Releases 202 Testing the Trademark System 211 The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 211 Hearst Castle 212 Navigating the Trademark and Copyright Office Web Sites 216 Considerations for Copyrights 218 Editorial Use 224 Public Display 226 Art and Commentary 226 Found Art 228 Satire 228 Special Considerations for Photos of Buildings 231 Commercial Buildings 234 Personal Homes 236 PART 7: THE BUSINESS OF LICENSING 243 Who Owns What? 247 Work-for-Hire Contracts 250 Non-Work-for-Hire Contracts 252 Licensing Agreement Basics 255 Signed License Agreements 256 The Indemnity Clause 257 Negotiation 101: The Quid Pro Quo 264 The Unsigned “Implicit” Agreement 267 INDEX 274
Dan Heller has been a freelance photographer and photo industry analyst for over ten years — a career that started when he put his photos on his Web site, www.danheller.com. His work has been featured in publications from news and business media to fine art books.
Looking to sell your photos? First, take this quiz! Do I need a release for a photo of someone I took in public? Should I get a release even if the person is unrecognizable? Is a release necessary if I make a profit selling a photo of a person? Do I need releases for photos of buildings? Are releases necessary for pictures of people from other countries? I took a lot of pictures as a hobby, and now I want to sell them. Do I need releases for all my people pictures? If I have no plans for a photo when I take it, should I get a release anyway? Does it make a difference if the subject was paid to be in the picture? Give yourself one point for "Yes," and two points for "No." In fact, make it three points. If you scored higher than zero, you have a lot to learn about model releases, because you can't answer these questions without more information. How will the photo be used? By whom? Can the subject be associated with an idea, product, or service? Until you know that, the question of releases can't be answered. As the photographer, you need to understand your buyer's concerns in order to make savvy decisions about how you market your photos and to whom. Here's how to make money from all your photos, whether or not they have releases, by understanding the business aspects of the law.