A model release is something that is fairly common place in the world of photography and other visual media. This release is usually signed by the client or subject, and in the case of a minor his or her legal guardian. The purpose of this release is to grant permission to use the photographs in a host of different areas. Depending on the wording and context of the release, the release can allow for a whole host of reasons. A model release isn’t always required for most photographic publications. Where a model release is applicable is when the personal or privacy rights are or will be infringed upon.
It’s important to remember that situations where a model release isn’t necessary is where a photo might be used for a consumer magazine, newspaper or educational book. This also goes for photo exhibits. The rules are also similar for news publications. If the subject is photographed in a public place, it is legal to use his or her likeness. This is all good as long as the photo is not used for anything remotely do with commercial use. Where you have to be careful is with ads, posters, brochures or other commercial forms. These are situations where without a model release, the photos will not be legal.
Strictly in terms of photography, a model release is a liability waiver. That waiver has to be specific enough to cover all the potential commercial uses of the model’s likeness. There is always an ongoing debate among photographers and other professionals as to how often are model releases really necessary. For the most part, for most photographers, the issue of model releases rarely comes up. Where the issues and controversies comes up where photos are being used for corporate magazines or other publications that publish sensitive material. Again, for the most part, many photographers have little to worry about. If you are unsure about anything, it’s always easier to just go through and create the release.