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View Full Version : Anyone know the law? Marketing question


snyper77
30th of December 2009 (Wed), 19:37
I found this statement (see attached) on a website and I wonder if this is all a photographer needs in order to use photos for marketing purposes. I mean, if a person comes to you and pays you to take their portraits, do you automatically have the right to use their pictures for marketing purposes or do you still have to get your customers to sign a release form? Thanks.

Picture North Carolina
31st of December 2009 (Thu), 07:32
I found this statement (see attached) on a website and I wonder if this is all a photographer needs in order to use photos for marketing purposes. I mean, if a person comes to you and pays you to take their portraits, do you automatically have the right to use their pictures for marketing purposes or do you still have to get your customers to sign a release form? Thanks.

I am subscribing because I'd like to know, also.

However, I was once told by an attorney that in reality, generic, blanket legal disclaimers (like used to be on boxes of film or that might be on your valet parking stub) can be easily maneuvered around. Without a signed statement, it cannot be proven that the sign was seen and read.

david69
31st of December 2009 (Thu), 08:38
I do not know the 'law' (although I agree with, "generic, blanket legal disclaimers ... can be easily maneuvered around").

This may depend on the field you're working in (I'm thinking Wedding Photograph Of The Year, as opposed to the fabulous shot you took for Gearwheel Monthly) and it may depend on what Release you have your clients sign. If it is the latter - and you should, to cover yourself, and other 'eventualities', have a signed Release - most people are quite flattered by the idea that their image may be used in such a (marketing) way.

The one thing you don't want - having a great shot that will market well - is finding yourself on the wrong side of any client (either personally or legally). Put the Release in your booking forms (or have a separate sheet for that). I feel that the 'notice' you've attached here would be wholly unnecessary if you're upfront with your clients (whoever they are).

Having said all that, I'll be interested on others' take on this ... there will, like everything else, be some Law out there.

Regards,

David.

Mike30D
31st of December 2009 (Thu), 09:04
Usually in the contract (weddings, portraits) there's a clause about "by signing this contract you give (your business name) the right to use photos for...."

Even with this clause though, there will always be those clients that do not want their photos used. Adhere to their wishes, it's good PR

david69
31st of December 2009 (Thu), 11:28
Even with this clause though, there will always be those clients that do not want their photos used. Adhere to their wishes, it's good PR

Best point!

andyg30
31st of December 2009 (Thu), 11:56
To enter a contract you need proof of reading i.e. signature therefore the generic notice would not necessarily work.

RDKirk
31st of December 2009 (Thu), 12:16
In the US, we're talking about state privacy laws, which vary tremendously across the country. In some states, there is little actual privacy legislation--mostly common law derived from court precedents. In some states like California (where privacy legislation has been driven by Hollywood--where one's image is one's livelihood), there is a great deal of privacy legislation.

For instance, in California, recent legislation pushed by the estate of Marilyn Monroe has created a situation in which a signed model release does not necessarily give a photographer the right to use the image commercially, even if the release clearly says it does.

That said, the statement at that link would be unlikely to pass muster in any state if it's not signed. It's not true that a model release must be a quid pro quo contract, but it does need to indicate that signed, eyes-open, cognizant permission to use the image was granted.

It is common that civil courts will tend to side with the individual against a small business if it looks in any way like the small business pulled a fast one (big business is another story, but a small business doesn't have the financial mass to pull the court away from its purely "moral" considerations).

I have a single form that combines both a model release and a license allowing the client to make copies of the images (in those packages that contain a CD). The license portion is at the top and will bear my signature when I deliver the images. I go over the entire document with the client and ask them to sign the bottom, which gives me the limited permission to use the images strictly for my own self-promotion.

If all you want to do is use the pictures for self-promotion, limit your release to just that--don't use those scary "I can do whatever I want with your pictures, forever, throughout the universe" releases. People will be more willing to sign if you've tightly limited how you will use the images to the actual uses you plan. Heck, I wouldn't sign one of those releases myself unless you were paying me Tyra Banks money.

Most sign it (in fact, most immediately ask, "You're going to put my picture on your website, right?"). My higher profile clients tend to prefer not. That's fine--I didn't have their picture to get them, so I won't need their picture to get others.

Picture North Carolina
31st of December 2009 (Thu), 12:22
I have a single form that combines both a model release and a license...

Is that a form that is downloadable somewhere?

Most sign it (in fact, most immediately ask, "You're going to put my picture on your website, right?").

Hey! Everybody deserves their 15 minutes! :) ;)

RDKirk
31st of December 2009 (Thu), 12:48
Is that a form that is downloadable somewhere?

It's a plain-English form my own lawyer made up for me.

david69
31st of December 2009 (Thu), 13:54
I hit the web with "photographer's release form" (all sorts of iffy things out there - see: http://submit.123rf.com/submit/123rf_modelrelease.pdf etc)... the line, "I can do whatever I want with your pictures, forever, throughout the universe" :D can be found in a variety of forms.

Best to have an attorney - one versed in IP - draw up contracts/releases tailored to your own business - or take a chance that what you have in the way of releases for marketing doesn't trip you up at some point (not the best way to proceed in anything).

Whatever the final 'choice' may be, imo Mike's, "Even with this clause though, there will always be those clients that do not want their photos used. Adhere to their wishes, it's good PR" is still the better (and less 'troubled') way to proceed.

Thread's now slightly off point

I wonder if this is all a photographer needs in order to use photos for marketing purposes. I mean, if a person comes to you and pays you to take their portraits, do you automatically have the right to use their pictures for marketing purposes or do you still have to get your customers to sign a release form?

No. A photographer needs to have a properly framed release - the attached will not work ;)