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first12
Photographer
DMesser Photography
Posts: 1,288
Oceanside, California, US


Augustine York wrote:
Did the photographer send you what they want you to be signing?

But I'll say that yeah, a model release is about the modeling signing off rights so that the photographer can use the photo for x,y,z. Not about what the model can do. That would be a usage agreement.

I'll also say that when I've shot TF I've rarely had to sign releases. Maybe twice? The rest of the time we just shoot in good faith. Never had an issue, but I'm also very picky about who I trade with.

I shoot TF and rarely have a model sign a release unless she wants it for her purpose.  I also don't restrict my models from using any of the pics anyway she wants.  I know I have the copywrite, but choose not to use it since i'm a hobbyist.   So, your question in most cases is correct, but it also depends on what the release says.

Nov 07 12 11:12 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mike Kelcher
Posts: 12,755
Minneapolis, Minnesota, US


A model release is not a contract. There's no need for a photographer to sign a model release. In a model release, the model gives a photographer various rights to use his/her image. Essentially, it's the model's "gift" to the photographer. Often the model receives compensation for that 'gift", but a model release never needs to be signed by a photographer....unless the photographer is also a model. A model release is a "uni-lateral" agreement. ("Uni-" meaning "one person").

When a photographer modifies a model release, or "creates" a document in which the photographer agrees to anything, then that document is a contract. A contract is a "bi-lateral" agreement. ("bi-" meaning two or more people).

Without a model release, a photographer is usually limited in terms of what can be done with the images. If the "model release" is actually something drafted or modified to include any promise of any sort by the photographer, then it's really a "contract" (a bi-lateral agreement), and almost worthless for any sort of sale to another party, licensing to another party, and in most cases, any sort of publication. No publisher that I've heard of will accept a bi-lateral "contract" in lieu of a uni-lateral "model release".  The reason for this is that there's too much "gray area" in a bi-lateral contract, and it's difficult to ascertain that the photographer met their contractual obligations....which if they didn't...would render the contract viod.

Likewise, without permission from the photographer who owns the copyrights, models can't do  much with images either, usually. The document that allows the model to use the images, is generally called a "usage license". That too, is a uni-lateral agreement.

My advice to model and photographers is to avoid contracts. They are messy. They generally are amateur modifications of what was once a good legal document. Since contracts require both parties to uphold their related parts of an agreement, it can easily become void. Publishers seldom accept contracts in lieu of a model release.

Using another separate sheet of paper so that there can be one uni-lateral use license and one uni-lateral model release solves numerous problems that would otherwise exist with contracts, and it really doesn't waste that many trees.
Nov 07 12 11:14 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
S W I N S K E Y
Posts: 24,315
Saint Petersburg, Florida, US


Honolulu Deb wrote:
Sorry if this is a silly question (yeah, you can blame the newbie!)...I thought model releases were more to protect the photographer?

This came up because I recently did a TF shoot, and liked one of the pictures so much I wanted to use it on my profile here (duh, that was kinda the point!). I didn't sign a release, and have no problem doing so. However, when I told the photographer about using the photo here, they got rather upset and insisted I needed to sign a release--RIGHT AWAY. The tone of the email exchange was one of "slapping my hand because I'm such a newbie and how dare I post a picture without signing a release" type of thing.

I've since taken the picture down, and am meeting with the photographer to sign a release. But for my own piece of mind, am I over-reacting? I felt so hurt, because I've been trying to do things the right way and not infringe on anyone's business/rights/photgraphs.

Thanks for the advice!

you are right, he sounds like an idiot

http://i.imgur.com/m8TQi.png

Nov 07 12 11:44 am  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
GPS Studio Services
Posts: 35,637
San Francisco, California, US


Mike Kelcher wrote:
A model release is not a contract. There's no need for a photographer to sign a model release. In a model release, the model gives a photographer various rights to use his/her image. Essentially, it's the model's "gift" to the photographer. Often the model receives compensation for that 'gift", but a model release never needs to be signed by a photographer....unless the photographer is also a model. A model release is a "uni-lateral" agreement. ("Uni-" meaning "one person").

When a photographer modifies a model release, or "creates" a document in which the photographer agrees to anything, then that document is a contract. A contract is a "bi-lateral" agreement. ("bi-" meaning two or more people).

Without a model release, a photographer is usually limited in terms of what can be done with the images. If the "model release" is actually something drafted or modified to include any promise of any sort by the photographer, then it's really a "contract" (a bi-lateral agreement), and almost worthless for any sort of sale to another party, licensing to another party, and in most cases, any sort of publication. No publisher that I've heard of will accept a bi-lateral "contract" in lieu of a uni-lateral "model release".  The reason for this is that there's too much "gray area" in a bi-lateral contract, and it's difficult to ascertain that the photographer met their contractual obligations....which if they didn't...would render the contract viod.

Likewise, without permission from the photographer who owns the copyrights, models can't do  much with images either, usually. The document that allows the model to use the images, is generally called a "usage license". That too, is a uni-lateral agreement.

My advice to model and photographers is to avoid contracts. They are messy. They generally are amateur modifications of what was once a good legal document. Since contracts require both parties to uphold their related parts of an agreement, it can easily become void. Publishers seldom accept contracts in lieu of a model release.

Using another separate sheet of paper so that there can be one uni-lateral use license and one uni-lateral model release solves numerous problems that would otherwise exist with contracts, and it really doesn't waste that many trees.

You have an interesting view of contract law.  Without sounding offensive, you need to do a little bit of research.

Nov 07 12 11:58 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
J O H N A L L A N
Posts: 9,995
Santa Ana, California, US


ei Total Productions wrote:
You have an interesting view of contract law.  Without sounding offensive, you need to do a little bit of research.

Except that his points are essentially correct. (I'm not commenting upon the definitions of uni-lateral and bi-lateral contracts [I'm not an attorney], as that kind of debate just really obfuscates the otherwise fairly accurate statements for no real purpose but to argue minutia on the forums).

Nov 07 12 12:07 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Woven Thought
Posts: 329
Petersburg, Virginia, US


Honolulu Deb wrote:
This came up because I recently did a TF shoot, and liked one of the pictures so much I wanted to use it on my profile here (duh, that was kinda the point!). I didn't sign a release, and have no problem doing so. However, when I told the photographer about using the photo here, they got rather upset and insisted I needed to sign a release--RIGHT AWAY.

Kind of odd and interesting.  It sounds to me like the two of you didn't hash out who gets what and all of that.  Your "duh" isn't really so, as the photographer may not have felt the same way.  But he DID share it with you.  He "gave" it to you, did he not?  Were there restrictions written in the email sent to you?  Legally, I'd say you could use it, but what do I know?  I'm not a lawyer.

My first thought is he sent you UNEDITED images for you to look through and pick your favorites for editing.  He would NOT want you to use one of those on your profile, he'd want you to wait and use an edited (and likely watermarked) image.  Now I personally send unediteds in an album that is only viewable, not downloadable.  I only send the finished product by email.

It's good to have usage spelled out prior to a session, usage for BOTH of you.  It is a trade.  I'm sorry this TF hasn't gone as well for you as it could.

Nov 07 12 02:10 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
GPS Studio Services
Posts: 35,637
San Francisco, California, US


ei Total Productions wrote:
You have an interesting view of contract law.  Without sounding offensive, you need to do a little bit of research.
John Allan wrote:
Except that his points are essentially correct. (I'm not commenting upon the definitions of uni-lateral and bi-lateral contracts [I'm not an attorney], as that kind of debate just really obfuscates the otherwise fairly accurate statements for no real purpose but to argue minutia on the forums).

I would agree with you but I think his diatribes about contracts are just wrong and misleading.  The basic premise of what a release is for, what a usage agreement is for, etc, is fine.  When he starts to give a lecture on the law, one which is largely incorrect, I have an issue.

Nov 07 12 08:10 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mike Kelcher
Posts: 12,755
Minneapolis, Minnesota, US


ei Total Productions wrote:
You have an interesting view of contract law.  Without sounding offensive, you need to do a little bit of research.

Perhaps I was unclear about something. It's not that I don't understand, it's possible that I wasn't clear somewhere, but if you have some objection that makes you feel I made some sort of error, I'd be interested in discussing it.  It wasn't my intent to "lecture on the law".  I don't think I mentioned any law.

Nov 07 12 10:06 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
DougBPhoto
Posts: 38,057
Portland, Oregon, US


Honolulu Deb wrote:
Sorry if this is a silly question (yeah, you can blame the newbie!)...I thought model releases were more to protect the photographer?

This came up because I recently did a TF shoot, and liked one of the pictures so much I wanted to use it on my profile here (duh, that was kinda the point!). I didn't sign a release, and have no problem doing so. However, when I told the photographer about using the photo here, they got rather upset and insisted I needed to sign a release--RIGHT AWAY. The tone of the email exchange was one of "slapping my hand because I'm such a newbie and how dare I post a picture without signing a release" type of thing.

I've since taken the picture down, and am meeting with the photographer to sign a release. But for my own piece of mind, am I over-reacting? I felt so hurt, because I've been trying to do things the right way and not infringe on anyone's business/rights/photgraphs.

Thanks for the advice!

I read the whole thread before posting and all I can say is wow.

First off, Deb, congrats, because it sounds like you had a better idea of how things work than that photographer and quite a few photographers in this thread.

Yes, you are correct, in the USA, the model release is all about protecting the photographer.  (In other countries that may be different, in Canada for example, a model release may also often contain wording to clarify who owns copyright, but that is not the case for the USA since the copyright is the photographer's except in limited circumstances.)

Now, why the photographer got upset, that is a different question.  As one person mentioned, we don't know if you uploaded photos that were proofs/not retouched/not released yet, or if it was simply a case that the photographer is not very knowledgeable about what is going on, and we only have a limited part of one side of the story to go off of.

1) model signs release for photographer so photographer has permission to use model's likeness.  In some states, it is a really good idea to have this even for portfolio use, and IMHO, it is always better to have such things in writing. 

2) photographer (in USA) owns copyright to image when photo is taken (a few exceptions, none really relevant here for USA.)

3) photographer provides finished images to model, it is normally assumed/implied that the model has usage rights for portfolio purposes.

4) for both photographers and models, it is good to have things in writing, for photographers it is good to have written model release, and for models, it is good to have a usage agreement where the photographer is specifying the model has the rights to use the image.  Such releases may be for portfolio use only or they may give more rights, up to the parties involved what they agree to.

That is it in a nutshell, other than that proofs should never be made public without the photographer's permission, and really no photos should be posted/used without the photographer's permission.  Even a model seeing a photo on the photographer's page, it is not appropriate to "snag" the image and upload it to your portfolio.  Yes people do that, but it isn't right, AND it may give you a lower quality image when you re-upload it, AND the photographer may have had a reason why it was not given to you yet.   (For example, some photographers may upload an image to MM (or linked through MM) to have a retoucher look at, or someone else look at as proof or critique but the image is not intended to be public yet, thus just taking images and using them without asking isn't really professional behavior.)

Nov 08 12 12:26 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
RKD Photographic
Posts: 3,265
Iserlohn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany


Kent Art Photography wrote:
OP, maybe your photographer knows as little about model releases as some of the photographers in this thread...

I hope your meeting goes well, and you get your usage rights.

This ^
The amount of wrong, bad and generally misleading information in this thread is simply staggering given the number of times this subject has been discussed on this forum. (Kent, ei Total and Doug B excepted... big_smile)

Nov 08 12 01:02 am  Link  Quote 
Model
Honolulu Deb
Posts: 8
Honolulu, Hawaii, US


Wow! Thanks again to everyone for the feedback and opinions...just as an update...

The image I wanted to use was a "final" image. So there was no question there it was good-to-go, in the sense that it was ready to post.

I met with the photographer yesterday, and what I was hoping was going to be a simple, sign this and we're good type of thing turned in to something far worse. I tried so hard to bite my tongue and not say anything negative or sound like a petulant child. *laugh* And for the most part it worked. But suffice it to say it's a photographer I won't work with again.

The sad part out of all of this? I still -really- like the one image I had to take down, and I really want to use it. But I refuse to give her the satisfaction of being associated with it. And if I can't give her the proper credit then I won't use it.

So...bottom line...I'm learning...and researching...and reading...A LOT!!! And I appreciate all the help from everyone. Thanks again for all the feedback!
Nov 09 12 09:44 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mark Salo
Posts: 8,227
Olney, Maryland, US


Images by MR wrote:
Why are you the photographer signing a model release ?
KelliOnLineGlamourNude  wrote:
I don't think that's what was said.

L2Photography net said it.

Nov 09 12 11:45 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Tips2toes Photography
Posts: 8
Monroeville, Pennsylvania, US


Typically, a model release is ALWAYS signed when I do photos, even though I only feature women's feet in my photos. I do this mainly because my releases include a statement of age and usage. I have a fairly comprehensive release that was reviewed and approved by a lawyer. I'm no big shot photographer because the lawyer is my cousin and reviewed it for free.

Sometimes I have had models say "Well, I don't want this to appear on some fetish site, ok?" That is where usage has to be established. I allow ALL forms of usage, as is quite often the case, my photos will be grabbed by someone and used on their site or for their purposes (which is fine by me, because anyone can grab any photos I have posted and use them for whatever they want as far as I'm concerned).

But if anyone wants a copy of the release that I have all models sign, please go to my account (tips2toes) and leave me a message.

Tory
Nov 10 12 06:11 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
imcFOTO
Posts: 579
Bothell, Washington, US


This kind of story really annoys me. Some photographers seem to think its ok to exploit models. If anything I think an experienced photographer should be morally bound to help new models who may not even realize they are being cheated.

I try not to judge too much here without all the facts - but it doesn't sound like a very equitable 'trade' to me! I never understand a photographer's reluctance to part with edited shots - don't you want your work to be appreciated? Featuring in a model's portfolio is just as important to me as having the shot in my own - it's called networking.

As for model releases, I choose not to get model releases signed in a TF shoot - instead I use my own standard TFCD agreement (I'll send anyone a copy if they are interested) which sets out my terms - and in fact protects the model since I sign away and non-commercial usage (as do they). I even specify timescales for drafts and final-edits along with how many they can choose etc. I always send a TFCD agreement prior to the shoot.

My personal view is that if I intend to profit from the use of images (even for microstock submission) I will pay the model something (even if it's only expenses). And that should then change from a TFCD to a paid agreement (slight variation to include fees and modified rights).

Maybe I give too much away - but I'm betting you will never hear one of these kind of stories about me. That's not just because I value my own integrity - it's also good business. I get good recommendations from model to model - more networking.
Nov 10 12 08:51 pm  Link  Quote 
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