Model Release Form

How important is a model release form for photography?

One thing that is always important to keep in mind is that any works that will appear in a consumer magazine, newspaper or educational book, generally do not require a model release form. This is also true for photographic exhibits. These are considered educational uses. However, photographs that are used in commercial form, such as in ads, brochures, posters, greeting cards, catalogues, trade shows or on websites will require a model release form, in order for the photography to be considered legal.

To briefly explain the meaning of model release forms for photography: A model release form is a document, which is also known in similar contexts as a liability waiver. A photographic model release form is a legal release that is typically signed by the subject in the photograph, granting permission to publish the photograph in one form or another. The legal rights of the signatories of the photographic model release form are thereafter subject to the allowances and restrictions stated in the release form.

It still remains questionable as to whether a model release form is compulsory in every instance, and whether not having a model release form would cause any problems to any of the counterparts. Many have argued that in the field of photography, and for photographers in generals, there rarely arise any problems concerning the legal issue regarding model releases, for most areas of photography. There are exceptions, however, such as with corporate magazines or other magazines that publish more sensitive material.

In some instances it remains advisable for photographers who publish images, to protect themselves, but even in these situations there is a difference between making an image available for sale (even on a website), which is not considered a publication that would require a model release form, and the use of the same image to promote a product or service in a way that does require a release form. So before you start making sure everything is in order in terms of the model release form, it's good to know what type of publication you are dealing with.

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