Child study/photography & legal issues

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Nicole, Oct 11, 2004.

  1. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    I am about to begin an 8 week study / photography / portrait sessions on 8 different children. The photos are purely for my own benefit (ie. photo practice and possibly used on my own website but not for sale to the general public) but held at a child care centre with each parents' written approval. All photos will be available for purchase by the parents at the end of the study if they wish to do so.

    My question is, where can I get a basic contract for the parents to sign so everyone feels comfortable with this and avoid misunderstandings.

    Any suggestions are most welcome.
    Thanks everyone
    Kind regards from Australia
    Nicole
     
  2. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    Work out a simple document stating the identity of you, the kid and the parents. List the things you will be using the photos for (web-site, APUG.org, other sites?) and state that you will not sell the pictures to anyone else than the parents. Also state parents right to the pictures (only for personal use or can they use them for model work?)

    Maybe Cheryl will write something as she is the grand kid photog here :cool:
     
  3. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Thanks for your reply Morton. Yes, hopefully Cheryl has some good tips.
     
  4. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Laws may be totally different concerning these things in Austrailia compared to the USA. If you know of an attorney type who is a friend, just ask him where you can find information concerning this. Or you could try asking the day care about what their rules and regulations are. They may have some good advise for you. If all else fails, ask a local TV station what they know about the laws governing picture taking, and in particular of children. A news paper might also have some good information if you call them. Just do not rely on what the laws state in the USA for your country. we are not all the same.
     
  5. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I agree with most of what Aggie says (lawers are pretty thin on the ground here unlike the USA so getting free advice from a friend might be lucky... I certainly don't know one!)

    My sons recently appeared in a brouchure for a kids play group thing. They happened to be at a neighbours whose child was going to be photographed for it and the woman asked if our boys could partipate. My wife said yes and that was it! She gave us a copy of the brouchure once it was done.

    When they have there pics taken at creche and kindergarten, we don't sign anything beforehand, usually just pick from the proofs that get sent home. This year one guy wanted a deposit beforehand but that I believe was because too many parents never pay up or return the proofs. For their birthdays we've always sent a camera along for the staff to take pics of them (they have a cake, etc)

    Recently (a month ago) my oldest son (5) was 'special helper' at kindy and my wife went along to help (they give out the drinks , fruit, etc) and was taken video and stills and the teacher asked her not to take wide VIDEO shots of all the kids, just close ups of our son. Was fine with the still camera. First I've ever heard of that here, mind you.

    So, I would talk with the parents and depending on responses, have something like Morten suggests ready for them to sign on to.
     
  6. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Hi Aggie! You are right. Laws are different from state to state, even organisation to organisation. It gets so confusing sometimes. :smile: Thanks for the advice.
     
  7. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I would also discuss with the parents a few weeks beforehand what guarantees of privacy, use of their child's image etc. they would be comfortable with. Just turning up with a 'Can I take photos of your child, here please sign this' I feel will be unlikely to ellicit a positive response.
     
  8. donna-marie

    donna-marie Member

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    As a childrens photographer I will add that all I do is talk (and talk) about the photos I wnat to take, how they can help/hinder etc etc. I then just say "oh one last thing, a simple contract stating that I will use these photos for my own professional advancement and you can't sue me for doing so." Said will a chuckle . . . I have never had a problem.
     
  9. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Andy I see what you mean. Unfortunately I only have a few days to push this one through. Hmm, wait and see...
    Donna, great tip! :smile:
    Kind regards from West Australia
    Nicole
     
  10. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    Nicole, Donna's advice pretty well summed it up! If you do a web search for "model release" you can find some good ones to use as a guide. There are also release forms specific to minor children, and you'll generally find those in the same place. I'd do a search for you, but my computer's not playing nicely with me at the moment.

    Generally, the more you talk with the parents, the more open they'll be. It's a good idea to have a few prints along the lines of what you intend to do with their kids, so they can see what you have in mind. Also, if you can get some simple business cards printed up, it does generally help them to feel more comfortable with you as a 'legit' photographer.

    Do drop me a line if you have other questions. It sounds like a great project!

    - CJ
     
  11. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    I agree totally. My advice with the document was only a part of what I do when I take kid photos. I talk the parents and get their permission and when they trust me I present them with the document and say that it is in their interest, too. They are happy to have the agreement down on paper and I have never had any bad repsonse to this. Everybody could see my reason for having this and felt that I was serious and honest.

    Morten
     
  12. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Not that this is necessarily great advice but I've been photographing kids and families and every other human type that you can think of for many years. I've never had anyone sign any type of release in all that time.

    I run a weekly newspaper ad for years and I may mention in passing that I think I will probably want to run such and such picture in the ad. Everyone is pleased and excitid about that. I have had permanent display space in malls and doctors offices, dentist offices, toy stores etc as well, and again never a problem.

    So I guess what I'm saying is that it's all about communication and trust with the clients that is probably more important than anything else.


    Michael McBlane
     
  13. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    This is true in the majority of instances. It's the few that surprise you that can throw you for a nasty loop.

    Sometimes people say, "Oh, OK, that's fine" without really understanding what you're saying, or thinking it through. Some others change their minds later, when they see themselves or their child in print and it freaks them. Others may have been OK with the idea of having their image published (web or print) but they did not like the particular image you used. In those cases, without a signed release stating that they are giving you permission to use any of their images in any way you see fit, you can really pay for it, literally and figuratively.

    Chances are good that, if your communication is good, you will not have to rest on a model release. On the other hand, it certainly doesn't do any harm to have them sign, and the peace of mind is absolutely worth the trouble.

    - CJ
     
  14. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Thanks very much for the good advice. Yes model releases are the way to go. Is it worth getting it written up by a lawyer or is that too far and not necessary?
     
  15. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Here in the states you can pick up the release forms at many camera stores for a few $$. Not knowing if the contractual laws would translate to
    Australia you might want to contact a local(in country) shop. It's gotta be cheaper than having a lawyer write up a custom form.
     
  16. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Be *very* careful with those "One Size Fits All" forms.

    My Legal Adviser (youngest daughter) worked for a time as a Legal Secretary for a large law firm representing a LARGE catalog mail-order house. She has first-hand information about litigation between photographers, models, the clients and everyone else involved.
    While there are differences between state laws, most are minor: "Acceptability" in the realm of General Corporate Law is what usually leads to law suits.

    Example: A corporation cannot have heirs. If there is a statement to the effect that "This applies to the photographer, his asssigns and heirs", and it is written to a corporation, it could be enough to invalidate the whole thing... but , n.b. "could". It may well lead to an arguing point.
    Another is the clause that states, "These images may be used without concern for the adverse effect they may have on the model, whether humiliating, degrading, causing public ridicule ... etc." That will NEVER hold up in court, because they are prima facie evidence of a Breach of Good Faith. I would NEVER sign a model release with that clause in it, myself, anyway.

    My daughter re-wrote my model release (copied out of a book), removing a lot of "stuff" and adding a few others. Independently, other Lawyers have evaluated my - her - Release, and advised me that it would not be difficult to support in court.

    What to do? If you are the average small-time operator, I wouldn't worry too much. Imagine yourself in the "subjects" place, and act in "good faith". That ... operating, or even attempting to operate in "Good Faith" ... is the strongest legal defense you can have.

    If you are still worried, consider the legal expense as being equivalent to the price of any other piece of equipment you have. Talk to a lawyer - the problem would most likely be finding one who knows about this area of law - and negotiate a fee for writing/ evaluating a Model Release. It shouldn't take much time ... translation: cost a whole lot.
     
  17. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    I'm surprised you don't put language to that effect on the receipts and/or work order forms (you must have some sort of paper trail).
     
  18. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    You're right, it is surprising. I've just never done it and never had any complaints or problems of any kind. But I probably should include it. somewhere.


    Michael
     
  19. Simone H

    Simone H Member

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    Nicole, I'm an Australian children's photographer, and have a model release that would work in this instance I'm sure. I got it from somewhere on, or linked to the Copyright Australia website. It's pretty simple, but comprehensive enough, and I once had a client who was a lawyer go over it and give it the nod. So, all in all, it's a good place to start at least. Email me if you'd like a copy, I'd be happy to send it to you.

    There is a real concern with photographing children in a child care centre, I know that the centre will usually have forms of their own regardign photographs of the child there. The laws are a bit stringent because putting photographs of children on public display could compromise their safety (custody disputes etc I gather). It's worth covering all bases. It's a great opportunity, good luck with it all!

    Simone
    simone@simonehanckel.com.au