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Why do bloggers need a model release?

There’s so much to think about legally when running a blogging business.  Getting legit, forms needed, disclosures, affiliate programs, etc.  Right of privacy is a big legal issue and should be adhered to and understood as much as possible by business owners, especially those using digital images in their blog usage. It is imperative that bloggers understand how a model release works and why it is needed.

What is a model release?

A model release is signed by subject (or in the case of a minor, the parent or legal guardian) giving the photographer or blog owner permission to publish the photograph as defined by the release.  Releases typically include use for marketing purposes, accompanying online blog posts, portfolio, and other commercial uses.  This also releases, if it has the appropriate language, any claims the model may have to future compensation for use of images.

Model release basics

  • Stipulations and restrictions including the session from which the images come from, limits on those images are to be used in the course of business and the payments for this use.
  • You don’t have to require that a model release is signed in order to take someone’s picture.  This is particularly true in areas of the country where high-level politicians, movie stars, and federal agent/employees are not able or will not allow you to use.
  • The model release can be included in a contract or a separate document.
  • Can be amended to be as restrictive or lenient as the parties in the contractual relationship see fit.
  • Client’s release of claims against photographer and/or blogger for use of photograph.

When should I get a model release?

Whenever you have photos taken of a subject that is intended for use of the pictures on website, blog or any other marketing avenues. When in doubt, get one in writing.  Even between friends and family. ESPECIALLY between friends and family.

When do I not need a model release?

In general, when shooting in a public area (landscape, subjects walk into frame, etc.) a model release is not needed.  However, states vary on their privacy laws so always double check for your state.

What if I don’t get a model release signed?

Unless it is otherwise written in the contract in similar language, you are unable to use the photographs for marketing or portfolio use until you obtain the model release.  It is always best practice to get it beforehand.  If you have a subject insisting on not signing it, it is recommended to find a different photographic subject to use.

Related resources

Why do bloggers need a model release?

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