Model Release question

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by BWGirl, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Hi All!
    Many of you know that my husband & I do ballroom dancing. Well, our ballroom dance instructor is an independent consultant. She owns her own business (ballroom dancing) and is also a professional ballroom dancer.

    She recently came to our camera club's annual model shoot. Where she was a massive hit! The problem she is having is that most model releases contains these words or similar:

    "I hereby grant the undersigned photographer... the irrevocable right and permission... the following: (a) the right to use and reuse, in any manner at all, said photographs, in whole or in part, modified or altered,...for any purposes whatsoever, including, without limitation, all promotional and advertising..."

    Because she is the essence of her business, she does not feel comfortable with this type of all-encompassing agreement. Is there something similar that she can sign for the photographer that would limit his rights? What sorts of things do stars & other persons of note sign?

    Thanks for your help on this!!
     
  2. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Jeanette -

    If I understand correctly, the concern that your model has is that use of photographs for advertising might create conflicts; for example, if a photographer sold a photograph of the model for use as an advertisement by a dancing instructor who is a competitor of the model.

    The wording of a model release is not sacred - it is a simple statement of the terms and conditions of the agreement under which the model agrees to be photographed that establishes the range of things that the photographer can do with those photographs.

    I would think a simple answer is to modify the model release to address the model's concerns. Some possible examples:

    1. "I hereby grant the undersigned photographer... the irrevocable right and permission... the following: (a) the right to use and reuse, said photographs, in whole or in part, modified or altered,...for any purposes whatsoever, including promotion and advertising of photographic services offered by the photographer. However, the photographer is specifically prohibited from selling or otherwise providing said photographs for use in promotion or advertising of any other products or services without the additional written agreement of the undersigned."

    or

    2. "I hereby grant the undersigned photographer... the irrevocable right and permission... the following: (a) the right to use and reuse said photographs, in whole or in part, modified or altered,...for any purposes whatsoever, with the specific exclusion that said photographs shall not be used for any form of promotion or advertising by the photographer or any third party."

    or

    3. "I hereby grant the undersigned photographer... the irrevocable right and permission... the following: (a) the right to use and reuse said photographs, in whole or in part, modified or altered,...for personal artistic display and competition purposes only. Photographer shall not use, reuse, or sell for use by others, said photographs for any other purpose without the specific written permission of the undersigned."
     
  3. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    It might also be a good and fair compromise to impose a time limit on the prohibition from use - say the dance instructor sees that she will be running her studio for the next fifteen years - inserting a prohibition of sales to same-industry advertising for a period of ten years following the date of the release would be reasonable.
     
  4. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    "I hereby grant the undersigned photographer... the irrevocable right and permission... the following: (a) the right to use and reuse, in any manner at all, said photographs, in whole or in part, modified or altered,...for any purposes whatsoever, including, without limitation, all promotional and advertising..."

    No one should sign anything like that..
     
  5. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Thanks for the input. I thought the release was a wee bit on the overly-broad side myself, but since this is a realm I do not often enter, I just wondered what people here think.

    Thanks! :smile:
     
  6. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Model Release

    A topic that has caused a LOT of controversy. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about the mechanics and intent of Model Releases.

    My youngest daughter worked as a Legal Secretary for a Law firm dedicated to the workings of a LARGE Mail Order - Catalog outfit, and her knowledge - firsthand - of successful and unsuccessful releases - was specific and intensive.

    I wrote an Article here about "Limited Model Releases" that created a LOT of comments, although agreeing closely with her - and independent (my Attorneys) legal advice and recommendations. The structure of my "Limited Release" was the result of a LOT of research. You might want to check it out.

    One web site was most informative:

    [ http://www.danheller.com/model-release.html#1 ]

    I hope you find this information useful.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2007
  7. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    OP: The wording in the "Model Release" you quoted is the broadest possible in favor of the photographer.

    Life is always a negotiation. Your Ballroom Dancer should determine what is her "bottom line" position and then enter into negotiations with whichever photog wants to use her pics.

    But advise her to be flexible too. Having seen the ultimate one-sidedness of a photog-friendly contract, she would be ill-served to take the 180-degree opposite position.

    That's simply a recepie for a stalemate.

    Model releases and other forms of "standard contracts" are, at best, simply starting points for two parties to negotiate a deal.
     
  8. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    WELL said. a Model Release is a contract, and as such, should - MUST - provide benefit and protection to both "sides".

    Apparently, this is one are where paranoia seems to run rampart. If either model or photographer distrusts the other so intensely as to require absolute domination, I would think that it would be far better to move on - and be involved with other people.
     
  9. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Two options:

    1. Don't sign it.

    2. Cross out the objectionable parts.


    Steve.
     
  10. Gabe Racz

    Gabe Racz Member

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    Actually a model release is usually not a contract. It's a release. Therefore it's one-sided by definition. The model is giving permission to the photographer, not the other way around. Model releases should be simple and able to be understood by anyone, not cluttered with limiting phrases. The more complicated you make it the less likely it is to do anything.

    If the model is being paid it might be a different story, but then there is a separate contract for the modeling services provided (even if there's no written contract there's a contract).

    As noted above, she can simply choose not to sign the model release. If she's going to a photography club, that shouldn't even cause any problems at all, it's not like she's saying they can't photograph her. And the photographers could probably still use it for some purposes, like their portfolio, fine art print sales, etc.
     
  11. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Well - I disagree. It IS a contract.

    I suggest you visit Dan Heller's site - as referenced previously (Permalink #6).
     
  12. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Ed is absolutely right - a model release is most definitely a contract! It is a written agreement that in exchange for consideration (prints, money, a cup of coffee), the model agrees to being photographed, and that the photographer agrees to the limits of usage defined in the release.

    And he and others are also absolutely correct that the standard language of this standard release is totally one-sided in favor of the photographer. But it is a simple matter to change the wording to reflect the concerns of the model. And that is what should be done.

    Bottom line is that if the model has special concerns, they need to be addressed and the model release should reflect the agreement between the model and photographer that takes those special concerns into consideration.

    And someone also noted that, in Jeanette's instance, one possible solution would be for the model to simply not sign the release. The photographs could still be made, and could be used for club and artistic display, but could not be used for any form of commercial advertising. And perhaps that would resolve the model's concerns. But I feel that because the model has special concerns it would be preferable to execute a release that clearly establishes limits relative to those concerns rather than relying on the assumption that everyone understands and agrees to unstated limits.

    I was in a workshop several years ago in which one of the (nude) models worked as a teacher in a public school and was concerned about being recognized. All that it took was to write into the model release that pictures of the model that depicted the model's face could not be used in any way. Problem solved - everyone happy.