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  1. #1
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Custom Model Release

    After quite a bit of thought and conversations with other photographers and models, I have settled on what I consider to be an appropriate Model Release, offering protection in good faith to both Photographer AND Model. Most "boiler plate" releases are heavily biased toward the photographer, and truthfully, *I* would not sign them myself. Note that this is a "custom" release, tailored to Fine Art Figure Studies. There have been reported instances of abuse, with the Model Release treated as a "License to Kill" - something FAR beyond the bounds of good faith - and without "good faith", may be vulnerable in a court of Law.
    I will make the usual caveats ... I guarantee NOTHING as far as "legality", typographic purity or anything else. I would advise anyone to obtain legal advice before placing all their confidence in this Release ... but before progressing futher, refer to Dan Heller's site. There is a great deal of useful information there.
    This Release is not only NOT "guaranteed", it is subject to change, based on additional input from participants on both "sides" of the community.
    All comments are welcome.

    Here it is:

    (Letterhead)

    Assignment - Preliminary Model Release

    The undersigned Model and Photographer agree to work together for the production of images in the category of Fine Art Figure Studies, for use limited to Gallery Exhibition and Sale, Portfolios (in any media) and Promotional Literature, provided that:

    1. The work on this date will be in general agreement with the tone and texture of the work previously reviewed in the Model's and/ or Photographer's portfolio/s, and other agreements between both parties prior to the commencement of the photographic session.

    2. The Model will be provided by the Photographer with reasonable opportunity to review and critique the work prior to publishing or public exhibition. The photographer agrees to cotact the Model, using reasonable effort to do so, from information included herein, to arrange and schedule that review. An additional Release will be provided at that time to authorize the use of specific images.
    Should the Photographer's effort to contact the Model fail, the Model agrees to abide by the photographer's discretion as to content and form, for the uses stated above, and other appropriate publishing applications.

    3. The photographer agrees to provide the Model with photographic prints and digital images of the work, for unlimited portfolio and promotional use, irrevocably, and without additional fee.

    4. In addition to the compensation for the work on this date, the Photographer agrees that the Model will receive ten precent (10%) commission from the sale of all images produced on this date, for a period of three (3) years following the date of this agreement.

    5. The Model hereby releases and discharges the undersigned Photographer from all claims and demands arising out of or in connection with the use of the images as stated above, including, but not limited to, invasion of privacy.



    Date _______________ Photographer ________________________

    Model's Signature _______________ Models' Name (please print) _________

    Address _________________________________________

    ________________________________________________

    City ______________ State ______________ ZIP ______________

    Telephone # ____________________________________

    Additional Contact Information _______________________________

    _______________________________________
    Last edited by Ed Sukach; 02-18-2007 at 09:41 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Corrected reference address
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  2. #2

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    On first glance, I'd say that this gives the model too much control over you and doesn't actually solve the legal issues satisfactorily. You have paid him/her when this release is signed. With para 2, he/she can prevent you from publishing by not signing a second release while, at the same time under para 3, he/she could be using the same images for self-promotion. Personally, I'd say para 1 is so vague as to be useless. If a disagreement arises, how is either party going to prove what you showed in that portfolio as per that para as a representative sample? It also refers to agreements made outside of this agreement which is another vague minefield sine they are not specified or even legally included by reference. No offense, but I think you need to head back to the drawing board on this one. Cheers, Richard

  3. #3
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rrankin View Post
    On first glance, I'd say that this gives the model too much control over you and doesn't actually solve the legal issues satisfactorily.
    Thank you for the reply. ALL will be considered.

    I am wondering, though .. have you any specific information about which issues are left "unresolved"?

    ... You have paid him/her when this release is signed.
    Not necessarily. Usually, this Assignment - Preliminary Release - will be signed BEFORE the work... to establish the charater and "limits" of the session.

    With para 2, he/she can prevent you from publishing by not signing a second release while, at the same time under para 3, he/she could be using the same images for self-promotion
    Will not, and can not happen. The Model will not receive the images until I develop the film. Shorter times might be possible with digital cameras, but I do not work with digital cameras.

    Personally, I'd say para 1 is so vague as to be useless. If a disagreement arises, how is either party going to prove what you showed in that portfolio as per that para as a representative sample? It also refers to agreements made outside of this agreement which is another vague minefield sine they are not specified or even legally included by reference
    .
    Signing the Agreement - Preliminary Release - by BOTH parties would indicate an understanding/ agreement as to the work to be done in the future... This will be a control over the Photographer, admittedly, but in my opinion it is only a fair way to assure the Model of "good faith" - in writing.

    You view this as a "minefield"? Do you have any other suggestons here?

    No offense, but I think you have to head back to the drawing board on this one
    This has never left "the drawing board" in the first place. I still have to talk to more participants on both sides.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  4. #4
    patrickjames's Avatar
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    As a professional I must interject that the model release is designed to protect you, not the model. If you are an honest and honorable person the model does not need to be protected from you.

  5. #5
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Hi, Fellow Professional!

    Thank you for your comments. They are appreciated!

    I realize that this release is not "of standard form" - it was not meant to be. Unfortunately, there are those who will ABUSE the idea of good faith. This was meant to protect both photographer and model ... and intended for use primarily in "Fine Art" (read: "Nude Figure Study") photography. Commercial work may well require something different.

    I would be interested - do you think anything detracts from the "protection" of the photographer, or affords any inappropriate "power" to the model?
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  6. #6
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I agree with previous posters that it gives WAY too much control to the model. I also disagree about putting terms of payment, especially the commission over a period of time, into the model release. Frankly, I am opposed to paying a commission to a model period. Payment to models should be a one-time deal, specified at the time of the modeling session. Given how hard it can be to get models even to show up on time, let alone provide you with contact information valid beyond the day of the shoot, I do NOT want to have a contractual obligation dangling out there for a three-year period. Because of the nature of showing work in a gallery, it might well be two or three years before you actually show or sell the work. If a model hears nothing from you for three years from the date of the shoot, and then five years later sees their photo in a book or a gallery, how are you going to prove to them that you didn't stiff them out of three years' commission, and more to the point, how are you going to prove to a court of law that you didn't, and aren't subject to punitive damages? That's all-around bad mojo. Just pay them whatever you're going to pay them. Specify that in a separate agreement.

    The same goes with the "provide digital and analog copies for their use" bit. I have no problem with providing copies of work to models for their portfolios. I am not going to give them unlimited rights to reproduce without some degree of supervision from me - I don't want them taking my work and turning it into posters they're selling on Ebay.

  7. #7
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    I agree with previous posters that it gives WAY too much control to the model. I also disagree about putting terms of payment, especially the commission over a period of time, into the model release.
    Point taken. Having the model share in the financial rewards seems OK to me. It is NOT unheard of for a model or photographer to request and obtain a more reasonable amount for compensation. If I photograph a model as "Fine Art", and pay her a small amount for the model release, say $10, and later that image is the central to a national or world-wide advertising campaign involving great sums of money, it is, to me. only a matter of "good faith" to re-negotiate the contract and increase her compensation.

    If a model hears nothing from you for three years from the date of the shoot, and then five years later sees their photo in a book or a gallery, how are you going to prove to them that you didn't stiff them out of three years' commission, and more to the point, how are you going to prove to a court of law that you didn't, and aren't subject to punitive damages?
    Unless I've been advised incorrectly, the person bringing the suit will have the primary burden of proof. How will the model PROVE that I DID sell anything, or that I did not exhaust all reasonable means to contact her when, in fact, I will have done exactly that?

    That's all-around bad mojo. Just pay them whatever you're going to pay them.
    Nah! In my book that is good mojo.

    The same goes with the "provide digital and analog copies for their use" bit. I have no problem with providing copies of work to models for their portfolios. I am not going to give them unlimited rights to reproduce without some degree of supervision from me - I don't want them taking my work and turning it into posters they're selling on Ebay.
    I specified "Portfolio use only". There is nothing there giving them absolute free us of those images for any other purpose.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  8. #8
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I'd rather avoid the suit altogether, and just pay the model a reasonable fee upfront. That way, they know exactly what their compensation will be, and if they're not happy with that amount, they politely decline to pose, and that's that. As I said before, I don't think that kind of information belongs in the release itself. You can write up whatever contract you want between you and the model as far as compensation is concerned - I don't think that contract belongs in your model release. I believe in paying a model a fair rate for their time - and I do include the prints I give them, as fine art prints, in the calculation of their compensation. As an example, I know that my prints sell for at least $250 apiece, so if I pay the model $100 in cash for an afternoon's posing, and give them four prints, signed as artists proofs, I just handed that model $1100 worth of compensation. I'd say that is pretty good pay for an afternoon. If you hire a figure model through an agency, where such things are highly regulated, you pay the model typically $150 an hour (well, the AGENCY gets $150 an hour... god knows what the model's actual cut is), and then that's that - the model expects to sign a blanket release that absolves you of any liability and any relationship to them, and any rights they have of review and refusal. I believe in discussing these things with the model in advance, so they can be comfortable when signing that standard release. I'll talk about it with the model before, during and after the shoot, so they feel good about what I've shot, and I'll be glad to discuss any specific image with them, but I'm not going to cede creative control.

    If you use a release like the one above, you are creating the perception in the mind of the model that they have co-ownership in the images you create, which is not the case. Again, the idea is to prevent legal hassles, not generate greater possibilities for them in the future. I have heard stories where someone posed for images when they were younger, then many years later regretted, and came back and sued the photographer (or the worst case, the estate of the model, in the form of their parents), and because the model release was not airtight, the photographer got hosed as a result.

  9. #9
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    If you use a release like the one above, you are creating the perception in the mind of the model that they have co-ownership in the images you create, which is not the case. Again, the idea is to prevent legal hassles, not generate greater possibilities for them in the future. I have heard stories where someone posed for images when they were younger, then many years later regretted, and came back and sued the photographer (or the worst case, the estate of the model, in the form of their parents), and because the model release was not airtight, the photographer got hosed as a result.
    The question then becomes ... was the model's conclusion a reasonable one? I've fielded this with "the other side" - models, and so far that does not seem to be the case. (note 1)

    As for legal hassles, I've discussed this with my Attorneys, and even more to the point, my youngest daughter who, in a different life was a Legal Secretary in a law firm dedicated to Contract Law, and was deeply involved in Model/ Property Releases, Advertising Contracts ... etc. The stories she can tell (especially, why the release was shot down in court) could curl your hair.
    Her one comment: "For the most part, the `boilerplate releases' found in the Everything You Need to Know as a Photographer books are worth much less than the paper they are printed on ... and the most common fault: Too broad. Specificity is important here."

    (note 1) I'm not done, yet. I haven't asked the models directly about their perception of "co-ownership" of images. I'll grind that fine... to be more confident of my impression.

    BTW ... You did kind of "throw" me here ... where the "someone who posed came back and sued the photographer (or in the worst case the estate of the .... Model...)" Model? Wouldn't the person who posed be the "model"?
    They would be suing their own estate????
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  10. #10
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    If I made that unclear, my apologies. The situation I described was that a young woman had posed for a photographer. A modest amount of time passed, and she was killed in a car accident. Her parents (representing her estate) sued the photographer, claiming she was a good (insert choice of faith here) girl, and would never have willingly done such a thing. If I recall correctly, the photographer had a poorly executed model release, and so the parents were able to create doubt about the intent of their daughter, and bankrupted the photographer. Now, exactly what was in that release, I have no idea. It could have been something scrawled on a napkin, at which point the photographer deserved what he got.

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