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Thread: People Pictures

  1. #1

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    I am about ready to set up a simple website. I have a lot of pictures of people from over the years...some at work, some taken on the street, etc. Mostly, the faces are identifiable.

    Do I need model releases for pictures that will be on my personal website? It will not be commercial, and I don't intend to make the file sizes big enough to be printable with any quality.

    What's my liability?

    Thanks!

    dgh
    David G Hall

  2. #2
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  3. #3

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    I'm not a lawyer or pro photog, but I've heard it said many times that the law is that if someone is out in public, it is not illegal to use their images for editorial purposes. I think the model release applies if you're trying to make money off of their images rather than present information (a la journalism, story, newspaper, etc).

    So I would say it depends upon your intended use. I hope I won't get yelled at for using the "p" word, but photo.net has tons of info and opinions on this topic.

  4. #4
    Les McLean's Avatar
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    I don't think you need to worry about model release forms for publishing people photographs on a personal website. For what it is worth, I do quite a lot of people photography wherever I go and have published many of them in magazine articles in both the UK and US. To date I've not had any problems and it is also significant that the publishing companies concerned have never raised a query which seems to agree with Brian's comment.
    "Digital circuits are made from analogue parts"
    Fourtune Cookie-Brooklyn May 2006

    Website: www.lesmcleanphotography.com

  5. #5

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    I work in radio, and a couple of years ago I photographed a series of listeners of the station I ran...kind of Avedon style but against black and holding signs indicating what shows the listen to, etc. So I asked them to pose, but did not think to offer them releases at the time. THOSE are the pictures I am really wondering about. The random street pix I am not worried about as much.

    Thanks again!

    dgh

    David G Hall

  6. #6
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (David Hall @ Jan 23 2003, 06:44 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>I work in radio, and a couple of years ago I photographed a series of listeners of the station I ran...kind of Avedon style but against black and holding signs indicating what shows the listen to, etc.&nbsp; So I asked them to pose, but did not think to offer them releases at the time.&nbsp; THOSE are the pictures I am really wondering about.&nbsp; The random street pix I am not worried about as much.
    </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    Hmmm ... You asked them to pose and they did. Obviously they were not unaware of what you were doing. If they were carrying signs, they probably wanted ... *meant* to be noticed. Seems to me that it would difficult to accuse you of a "Violation of Privacy."

    I would do a little role reversal: You are them. Would you be offended or feel yourself "damaged" in some way? The answer to that would be a pretty good test of "Good Faith".

    "Pretty good" , but certainly not absolute. Someone could fly off the handle or just view the situation as an opportunity to "turn a few dollars". Certainly, you would have another chance to claim "good faith" and either pay the subject a dollar or two for a Model Release, or remove the offending image from your web site - again, as a token of good faith.

    To tell the truth, I wouldn&#39;t worry a whole lot about it.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  7. #7

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    Two issues here.
    #1) Editorial use ( newspaper articles, magazine articles, books) does not require a release if the subject had no expectation of privacy. In other words, if you were on publicly owned property and the subjects were either on publicly owned property , or if they were on private property, they were plainly visible ( not inside, in a bathroom, behind a fence, or something like that). If you were photographing while "on" privately owned property, you are at the whim of the property owner. Example, if you are in Lancaster County on a privately owned farm during an Amish auction, the owners can tell you to put your camera away.

    #2) Any use that enhances a business position, AKA advertising, requires a release from both recognizable people and the property owner if that is also identifiable. Using photos on your website clearly enhances your business position for you are using the photos to attract attention to your skills and get people to use your services.

    There are some caveats here. The case of the Rock and Roll Fame is the most recent. A photographer photographed the structure from a public sidwalk and made posters to sell in those mall art stores. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sued, saying they did not sign a release. The courts ruled that the he did not tresspass, and the photo was free speech protected art. However, he could not use the photo as a promotional mailer or on his business website because that is enhancing a business interest, and he had no release.

    I know what you are going to say, selling the posters clearly enhances his business interests, as he is trying to make a profit, but I guess the courts thought that "selling photos" was different than having the photos "sell the photographer"

    There is very little case law on this as most issues are settled out of court. In the absense of releases, you are at risk. You may say- how will they ever find out?, so it needs to be a calculated risk, but a risk none-the-less. Some people say it is easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission, but be prepared to pay some costs to attorneys and to the other party if you can&#39;t make diplomacy and a small retroactive fee work for you.

    John Luke
    APA/ASMP

    John Luke
    member-ASMP

  8. #8

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    One more thing- Every contract needs three things to be valid-
    #1)Consideration- a mutually agreed upon fee such as a print, or &#036;20 bucks or something like that. &#036;1 used to do it, but courts ruled that &#036;1 was insufficient consideration.
    #2)Acceptance- Both parties agree and sign the release.
    #3)Execution- perform as to the terms of the release.

    John Luke
    APA/ASMP
    John Luke
    member-ASMP

  9. #9
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (John Luke @ Jan 29 2003, 10:42 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
    &#036;20 bucks or something like that. &#036;1 used to do it, but courts ruled that &#036;1 was insufficient consideration.
    </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    One overriding consideration: "News" is protected - based on the First Amendment - as "Freedom of Speech".

    The idea of a &#036;20 minimum is new to me - does this apply to ALL contracts - (A model or property release is a contract)?

    Any idea where I could reference the court decision?
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  10. #10

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    Ed-

    Not sure what you mean about "News". News falls under editorial use and no release needed.
    The &#036;20 is an arbitrary figure. I give people/property owners a print as consideration.
    A release is a contract. It is an agreement between 2 parties for a specific performance with the 3 requirements mentioned. There are obligations on both parties.
    To research the R & R Hall of Fame issue, there is a trade pub called Photo District News. Check their archives.

    John

    John Luke
    member-ASMP

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