What Is a Model Release Form?
A model release form is a legal document used to authorize a person to reproduce someone’s image, likeness, or other attributes, whether on personal or non-personal benefits. This excludes any exploitative purposes and malicious intentions. Usually, photographers use this permission to exhibit a model’s photographs. Thus, the model and photographer must review the document’s terms and conditions, payments, and other legal considerations in fulfilling the agreement.
How Do You Prepare a Model Release Form in Four Easy Steps?
Between 2011 and 2015, the federal human trafficking prosecutions increased by more than 40%, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Human trafficking offenses include the following: peonage, slavery, forced labor, or sex trafficking. Hence, a document like a model release form is one means to prevent these crimes from happening. It permits the use of someone else’s imagery without infringing on their interests. If you are still all over the place and cannot decide on what and what not to include in a model release form, below is a step-by-step guide to making one. Continue reading below.
1. Talk With the Model and Consult an Attorney
The right to release their images lies in a model’s hand. This is because some states have more specific legal definitions that provide greater protection to people who appear in published photos. Understandably, the statutory language gives most photographers broad freedom over their works. That is why it is best to consult an attorney before executing a model release form to avoid misinterpretation. It is also an opportunity to clarify the agreement’s legitimacy. If a form is existent, let a professional review it first before signing to ensure there are no loose ends.
2. Obtain the Basic Details
The last thing you want is to create a deal with a total stranger. So, the model release form should start with the introduction of the participating parties. Do this by asking the photographer’s and model’s personal information like complete name, address, and contact details. You can even go as far as asking for their ID numbers. Or, the company they are working for in case it requires the release of all claims against the company. Providing this information has a lot of benefits. One of those is clarifying the parties’ status as a releasor or releasee. And, it also defines their participation in the agreement.
3. Discuss the Payment and Other Obligations
Next, indicate the execution date and when the transaction happened. These are critical in documents like a model release form. Aside from setting when the deal takes effect, it also tells the agreement’s expiration period. Moving forward, discuss the obligations of all the parties. This will guide them on what actions to implement whenever things do not go according to what they had hoped, especially in terms of payments. Since this document is legally binding, a party can pursue a lawsuit if violations of the agreement occurred. But, the parties can agree to mutually cancel the deal with a mutual rescission and release agreement.
4. Sign and Notarize the Model Release Form
Even though the releasor has rights to the images, the model partly owns the photograph in accordance with the agreement. To ensure the validity of the model release form, you can notarize it. However, some places (country, state, etc.) do not require to notarize this document. Consult a notary public if your local court requires you to do so. Then let the releasor and releasee sign the form to seal the deal. This does not only signifies understanding of all the terms and conditions. But, it also shows that the parties are ready to perform their obligations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do models have rights to their photographs?
The rights to the images depend on the agreement between the agency or model and photographer. If the agreement provides unlimited rights to the person who hired the photographer, the agency would own the images. On the other hand, once the agency decided to transfer the copyright, they must give up all rights to those images.
Can a photographer use my photos without a release form?
A photographer can be in so much trouble for using someone’s likeness commercially without a release form in the United States. Similarly, it is illegal for an individual to use a photographer’s work without a photo release form.
Why do you need a model release form?
You need a model release form if you use another person’s likeness that appears in a photograph. This is to prevent the parties from compromising each other’s interests. Whether for personal or commercial benefits, it is illegal to use someone’s identity.
A few places allow using other people’s copyrighted work. However, it is still illegal in most parts of the United States. Although some legal distinction can protect the parties involved, it could still harm their reputations. To avoid these expensive and time-consuming lawsuits, create a model release form. With this, you can avoid any dispute while using someone else’s images commercially.