Street Photography and Model Release

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by andrewmoodie, Oct 30, 2006.

  1. andrewmoodie

    andrewmoodie Member

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    What are the laws regarding this in the UK?

    My street photography project is very personal and it involves people's faces, strangers in the street, and I get their permission to take their picture, but I sure as hell don't get them to sign anything, I don't really want to know their names.

    But...does this mean I can never exhibit, post online, or publish any of these pictures?

    Just wondering.

    Andrew
     
  2. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Personal use, normally no, commercial use, most of the time yes, if your posting on your website, I would say no you don't require it, unless your website is selling the images for profit, if your exhibiting just for the heck of it and no profit involved, I would say no, if you publish in a magazine that pays you, I would say yes, if your publishing in a newspaper that is not paying you, I would say no...if your doing a book that you intend to sell, I would check with a lawyer to see how it would apply.

    Dave
     
  3. Christopher Colley

    Christopher Colley Member

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    Don't know the laws out in the UK but from what I understand here in the US you can sell prints and books for profit without a release. The only time you'd need a release is to sell something unrelated to the photos.

    i.e. I can make a collection of 50 prints and make huge posters and hang them all over galleries advertising my collection being for sale, without a model release.

    I could NOT use my photograph of a stranger to sell a gadget or corkscrew without a model release, putting up posters of the same type above but in order to sell corkscrews instead of prints would not be acceptable without a model release..

    Again, don't know about the UK but in the US you can sell prints and books for profit without a model release... that is not considered a commercial usage it is considered an artistic endeavor and not the same thing as someone using a photo to sell the newest greatest cheese slicer.. I would assume the laws are very similar on this issue between the countries but I could be wrong.
     
  4. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    My understanding is that here in England you do not need a model release for street photography, and you do not need to ask permission either. You do need to ask permission to work on private property, such as shopping precincts. You may publish these pictures provided they are not derogatory, provided they were taken from public property; note the use of the word from. Increasingly publishers require a model release form, which is why advertising agencies and film makers hire actors/extras, or invite the general public to take part in their work. This doesn’t mean to say that if you shove a 20mm lens up a strangers nose, you aren’t risking a thump. Les McLean leads a street photography course in the south, why not get on one of those to learn from the expert.
    http://lesmcleanphotography.com
     
  5. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    There you go Andrew, the best bet is call a lawyer or consult a lawyer, cause asking on a website is not the best way to get a difinative answer, seems there is a difference in the way Christopher and I interpet the laws here in the US, but beings you located in the UK, I would bet Dave Millers advise would be closer to what might apply to you, as he is in the UK as you are.....And as Dave said, if anyone could tell you, it would be Les...

    Dave Parker
     
  6. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Andrew, I have made photographs in the streets for many years and have used them in exhibitions, magazine articles and illustrations in books. I never ask for models release forms to be signed and quite often don't ask for permission, to date I have had no legal problems. After an incident involving an accusation that I was photographing the children of an American tourist for "dodgy" reasons on one of my workshops in Brighton I will not point my camera in the direction of a child unless I have talked to the parent or guardian.

    My understanding of the legal situation in the UK is the same as stated by Dave Miller in an earlier post.
     
  7. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    In addition to the above, you may want to look at the PDF that can be downloaded from this (http://www.sirimo.co.uk/ukpr.php) site. It basically agrees with what has been said, but also includes a lot of other info on related issues that may be worth knowing.

    I have also seen that competition entries and a stock agencies will not take an image without a release for any identifiable individuals.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  8. robopro

    robopro Member

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    If somebody knows the actual law, then please correct me here, but I believe in America anything or anyone in public view can be photographed from public property and printed, displayed, sold, or published without the need for a release of any kind. The right to privacy does not extend to public locations. That, of course, would be assuming the photograph wasn't altered in anyway and the photographer didn't break any laws (like tresspassing) to get it.
     
  9. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I think this is generally correct (think "Paparazzi").

    But even though I am a lawyer, this is NOT my area of practice. So my best advice would be to consult an attorney who concentrates in that area of the law if you are unsure.

    A lot more useful would be if you (the OP) explained the situation that leads to your query. Right now all you seem to be seeking is "speculative answers".

    There are a number of threads on the site that have discussed this point to great detail and angst. Perhaps you might want to do a search?
     
  10. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Not for the advertisement and TV commercials, at least.

    But again, this sort of thing has been talked about in many threads.
     
  11. robopro

    robopro Member

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    Good advice. I may be a 'genious' with robots, a poor photographer, and an opinionated a**, but in legal situations I'm the last guy on earth whose advice you want to follow.
    My personal approach in these situations is, if the photo is up close and personal I ask for permission. Has nothing to do with law, just curtesy -- that 'golden rule' thing. A signed release never hurts, though...
     
  12. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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  13. robopro

    robopro Member

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    I read that article earlier. While I disagree with the behavior of the police in the first one -- totally unprofessional behavior on their part, unfortunately with things being as they are now I can certainly understand people being concerned about some guy up on a rooftop pointing an object toward a school sporting event. It's easy to say 'but it was just a camera!' How is everyone else supposed to know it's 'just' a camera? Yes, the police did over react a little, but what would have happened had they under reacted and he was a sniper?

    But, the original question wasn't really about getting arrested for 'looking unprofessional', it was about the need for a release to avoid future civil lawsuits and such. As far as I understand the law in America, I can be in my own bedroom making out with my best friend's wife and if you're standing on the sidewalk and can see us through my bedroom window, you can take our photo and get it put on the cover of Newsweek if you can and there's nothing I can legally do about it, and I'm certainly nobody of interest to anyone (a true, 'private' citizen).
    Here the law says if I want privacy in my home, draw the curtains. If I don't want someone taking my photo -- or video taping me or recording what I say in public, then don't go out in public. The amazing thing to me is how many people here don't realize that -- they actually believe that because they aren't celebrities I can't take their photo without permission. I even had a man confidently inform me once I could not photograph his house without his permission -- and I was standing (literally) in the middle of a public road!
    This last is getting a little off the subject but, if people realized just how little real right to privacy they actually legally have, they may understand a little better how celebrities feel about paparazzi -- but that's really another subject...
     
  14. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    I said the links page! Not the front page.... :smile:

    http://www.photopermit.org/?page_id=67

    BTW, I think it was in the UK where a couple were eating lunch at an outdoor restaurant table, and were snapped by a PJ for the local Sunday paper restaurant review, and the pic ran -- trick is, they were meeting at the restaurant as part of an extramarital affair. So once exposed they sued the newspaper! And lost. Still funny.
     
  15. robopro

    robopro Member

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    Doh!