December 4th, 2008
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Now there’s less money around, the nastier type of person is going to start scrabbling about for some of yours. We’re OK because we haven’t got any.

Seriously, if we don’t have cleared rights for an image, we’re not going to be able to make a Commercial Sale — which, in picture library terms, means a sale to an advertising agency or somewhere where the image could be assumed to endorse a product.

So that’s all the Royalty Free images gone, for a start. Never mark a picture as Royalty Free unless you’ve definitely got the Model Release, and best get the Property Release as well, unless you were standing on public ground.

The great majority of the sales we make are Editorial Sales, mainly to book publishers, so there’s less of a worry. But we’ve noticed recently that increasing numbers of publishers are demanding model and property releases when they buy images. And an image which comes with full authenticity and proper releases will be more valuable.

Our downloadable Model Release and Property Release are laughably simple, and would doubtless be shredded by any Noo Yoik attorney needing to feed his Coke (acola) habit. Here’s an extract from a US model release:

For good and valuable consideration of ____________________________, herein acknowledged as received, and by signing this release I hereby give the Artist and Assigns my permission to license the Images and to use the Images in any Media for any purpose (except pornographic or defamatory) which may include, among others, advertising, promotion, marketing and packaging for any product or service. I agree that the Images may be combined with other images, text and graphics, and cropped, altered or modified. I acknowledge and agree that I have consented to publication of my ethnicity(ies) as indicated below, but understand that other ethnicities may be associated with Images of me by the Artist and/or Assigns for descriptive purposes.
I agree that I have no rights to the Images, and all rights to the Images belong to the Artist and Assigns. I acknowledge and agree that I have no further right to additional Consideration or accounting, and that I will make no further claim for any reason to Artist and/or Assigns. I acknowledge and agree that this release is binding upon my heirs and assigns. I agree that this release is irrevocable, worldwide and perpetual, and will be governed by the laws of the state of California excluding the law of conflicts. I represent and warrant that I am at least 18 years of age and have the full legal capacity to execute this release.

And here’s ours:

I hereby assign full copyright of the photograph(s) taken of me by the above-mentioned photographer to that photographer together with the right of reproduction either wholly or in part.
I agree that the Photographer or licensees or assignees can use the above-mentioned photograph(s) either separately or together, either wholly or in part, in any way and in any medium.
The Photographer and licensees or assignees may have unrestricted use of these for whatever purpose, including advertising, with any reasonable retouching or alteration.
I agree that the above mentioned photographs and any reproductions shall be deemed to represent an imaginary person, and further agree that the Photographer or any person authorised by or acting on his or her behalf may use the above mentioned photographs or any reproductions of them for any advertising purposes or for the purpose of illustrating any wording, and agree that no such wording shall be considered to be attributed to me personally unless my name is used.
Provided my name is not mentioned in connection with any other statement or wording which may be attributed to me personally, I undertake not to prosecute or to institute proceedings, claims or demands against either the Photographer or his or her agents in respect of any usage of the above mentioned photographs.

We don’t seem to be so concerned about the model’s ethnicity. Should we be? And the American release assumes payment of the model(s) in some form, difficult when you’re faced with a rioting mob. But then getting any rioting mob to stop and sign model releases has always posed a problem.

Let’s face it, this is the boring side of photography. But people who have a high boredom threshold have the capacity to succeed in politics and to make money.

So sorry, but it has to be done.


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