Blas Garcia

Filmmaker | Animator | Photographer

“Can I Take Your Picture?” The Importance of Using Media Release Agreements

Posted on 05 Dec 2011 in Front Page, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Whether you are a documentary filmmaker or a multimedia journalist, there are many steps in producing a professional final product. With all the script writing, filming, and editing that take place, it is very easy to accidentally skip one important step to legally protect yourself.

It is always important to get a video/photo release form signed by individuals you are planning to videotape or photograph. Having this form filed away is always helpful if legal issues arise in the future.

“I have all my clients sign a release form prior to taking their pictures,” said Erica Gorostieta, a photographer in Dallas, “I’ve never had anyone complain about taking 5 seconds to give me their John Hancock.”

Below is an example of a simple video release form:

Release forms usually include information such as the signature of the person(s) being videotaped/photographed and what their image will be used for, document created by Blas Garcia

Release forms usually include information such as the signature of the person(s) being videotaped/photographed and what their image will be used for, document created by Blas Garcia

A Stanford University Libraries article states there are two different release forms that can be used.

The first is a blanket release. This type of release gives a videographer unlimited rights to use a person’s image. It will allow you to edit and carry their image across several types of media.

Some professional models will choose to sign a limited release. This type of release specifies what an image can be used for and that person can choose to sue if it is used outside of these boundaries.

It is important to make sure the information in the release is clear and concise. Make sure it includes exactly what their image will be used for. According to Huffington Post, model Caroline Louise Forsling is suing Estée Lauder for using test shots they took of her for one of their ads. Forsling claims they did not have permission to use those test shots.

With a blanket release, the photographer has the freedom to make changes to an image and edit it for their project, photo created and edited by Blas Garcia

With a blanket release, the photographer has the freedom to make changes to an image and edit it for their project, photo created and edited by Blas Garcia

Remember that with children, there are different restrictions put in place depending on your state’s laws. Children cannot give consent to have their image used and thus a parent or legal guardian’s signature will be needed. For a sample model release for children, the American Society of Media Photographers website is a great source.

“No one likes paper work,” explains Gorostieta, “but I’d rather have that paperwork if it means not having to go to court.”

Disclaimer: Blas Talk is not responsible for any issues arising from the use of the template. This template was just attached as a reference. As always, consult a lawyer for any legal advice regarding privacy laws.

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