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Old January 15th, 2003, 01:37 PM   #1
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Release Form Needed?

This applies more to still photography, but I came up empty doing an internet search.

My daughter-in-law is a yoga instructor. The other day, one of her clients mentioned how good she (my daughter-in-law) looked in the photo which appeared in a regional magazine.

This caught my daughter-in-law completely be suprise, because she had no idea her picture was being used, much less taken.

It seems she was in the yoga studio with a lot of other people, and a photographer was taking pictures (of the studio), and the next thing her picture appeared in the magazine.

Shouldn't the photographer have asked my daughter-in-law to sign a release? Would she be entitled to any compensation, or name credit, etc.?

Thanks, and apologizes for being off topic.
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Old January 15th, 2003, 03:32 PM   #2
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I play in a band, that in the summer of 2002, played a concert in city park that a local photagrapher took pictures at. 2 weeks later he asked me to release the rights of my image for a local city brochure.

I'm not completely positive on this one, but I'm pretty sure that if a picture is "sold" as advertisement, you do indeed have to have a release signed by the person(s) that are in the shot.

I'm not to sure on non-profit photos, (eg. newspaper/news articles).

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Old January 15th, 2003, 05:46 PM   #3
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<<<-- Originally posted by Nori Wentworth :
I'm not completely positive on this one, but I'm pretty sure that if a picture is "sold" as advertisement, you do indeed have to have a release signed by the person(s) that are in the shot.
-->>>
You are correct Nori. A release needs to be signed prior to using an image of somebody.
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Old January 16th, 2003, 01:56 AM   #4
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That's any time any image of anybody is used, period, video or still, right Paul?
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Old January 16th, 2003, 02:45 AM   #5
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Well, the significant exception comes when a photographic subject is out in public or part of a crowd, e.g. participants/spectators at parades, concerts, sporting events, and so on.

If you're shooting in the park and a few folks happen to be sitting around on benches, but they're too distant to be uniquely identifiable or too numerous, it's probably safe to use the footage commercially without a waiver. If any person is focused on or lingered on, it's a good idea to have a signed waiver from the subject.
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Old January 16th, 2003, 04:45 AM   #6
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So wait. . .now I'm confused. If they're in a crowd shot, and indentifiable, and you linger, then it's necessary or unnecesary for them to sign the release?


And when at parade/concert/event, if you pull aside joe schmoe and interview him or get him saying "hi Ma," or whatever, still need a release, right?
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Old January 16th, 2003, 08:03 AM   #7
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If you're news media, you can photograph people in public places all you want.

If you're a commercial film production, photographing people without release, whether they're in public or not, can always open you up to the risk of lawsuit. A smart producer will obtain releases for every person in a shot. For the most part, though, shooting on the street and capturing crowds should be perfectly all right.
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Old January 24th, 2003, 11:24 AM   #8
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Taking the picture versus using it

The way to think about releases is to think about "use." Anybody walking down the street can be seen by you, with your eyes only, right? So anybody walking down the street can also have their picture taken by you (still or video) and you can take that picture home and look at it with your eyes only -- in the same way you can use your memory to remember their image. There is no further "use" so there is no signed release required.

But if you want to put the person in the image on television -- whether commercial or non commercial -- or in a book or on the internet, then you need to get their permission using a carefully-worded release. We have a state law on this in NY - Article 55, I think.

Shooting video in restaurants is the same thing, with another angle: If you are in a restaurant, you are in a place that is privately owned, but that is in many ways like a public place: Anybody can walk in and be seen by you with your eyes -- just like in the street. So you can take pictures in the restaurant. However you can be prohibited from doing this by the restaurant owner/manager. If the restaurant says 'no pictures,' then you cannot take pictures. You must obey the restaurant owner. Same thing goes for grocery stores: Most grocery stores prohibit photography, bcause they don't want competing grocers to look at the way they arrange their shelves and stuff like that, so they disallow all photography. Not fair, but that's what they do -- they assume you are working for the competition. If they don't prevent photography, there is no reason why you cannot take pictures there.

Some restaurants encourage photography, some dislike it. You can ask before and maybe be told 'no' or you can go ahead and capture some images and THEN be told to stop...or maybe just get smiles from the restaurant owner and be encouraged to continue ("are you going to put our restaurant on television??") You never know. How to manage this kind of thing is your decision as a videographer/photographer.

A person who is a performer, say, a bellydancer in a Moroccan-cuisine restaurant or a character in a MickeyMouse costume at walt disney world, or a nude dancer in a strip club -- all these people are placing themselves on display before an audience voluntarily, so unless the owner of the place, (restaurant owner, Disney company, strip-club operator) says "no pictures!" ... you can go ahead and take all the video and pictures you want. But you cannot take that video of that dancer or that video of that person dressed up as mickey mouse or the images of that naked dancer and turn that into a video product for sale, or put it on TV (except for news) or the internet without first getting the permission of the person whose image is shown (not the restaurant owner). To take that additional step of sharing the image with others (whether for money or for free) without getting the permission of the individual whose image is being used is a violation of the law.

Now here is the big question: What if someone in a public place - on the street, say, or in a restaurant where the owner has not prohibited photography - says to you "don't take my picture!" Do they have the right to stop you from recording their image? I think the answer is no. If they do not wish to be seen in public, they have the option to stay home with shades down or wear a head-to-toe body covering garment. But I do not believe anyone has the right under law to tell you to not take their picture. Somebody correct me if I am wrong.

So the key concept is that making the picture is a separate thing from creating the product. This is a difference that is often overlooked -- for example, by dancers who are afraid that their image will be stolen and sold. They are assuming that the person taking their picture is a criminal who will mis-use the photo or video. This is 'wrong,' but a lot of people leap to this conclusion and make problems for photographers/videographers who are just hobbyists and have no intention of selling or sharing the images they create.
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Old January 24th, 2003, 12:01 PM   #9
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So when you're watching some dating reality show, and you see a bunch of people in bar, those people all had to sign releases? I don't mean the people who are the focus of the show, I mean the background people.
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Old January 24th, 2003, 12:16 PM   #10
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There are a lot of legal variations involved in the release issue.

But generally, consider this rule of thumb.

You may photograph anything/anyone you see in public.

You may NOT SELL anything or anyone you photograph in public withough their permission.

Now, the legal definition of SELL or PROFIT BY is another issue. But that's why there are lawyers. Yes, the people in the background of the reality shows have to sign releases.

News content is different, but also the ability to use footage collected for news purposes is LIMITED, to news reporting.

People have a right to privacy, AND a right to PUBLICITY... that is, the right to profit from their image, and the right to prevent other people from profiting from it.

People often confuse the two rights.

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Old January 24th, 2003, 01:27 PM   #11
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Josh,

First, the image would have to be a recognizable image. Usually, the show works with the bar/restaurant to inform all patrons as they enter that filming will take place within the establishment and if they do not want to be photographed, do not enter. Releases are usually obtained at that time.

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Old January 24th, 2003, 01:33 PM   #12
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If your daughter was in a yoga studio teaching, they should have had her sign a release. The yoga "studio" is not a public place (it's specific use is for the yoga students unlike a resturant where anyone can go to eat). She is teaching, which means she was making money. By taking her picture, or any picture, in that establishment, they are hoping to use the photography to their benifit. Wether they sell the magazine of give it away is irrelevant. They are gaining "something" by the use of her likeness, reputation, classroom or anything involved in the photography and not only did they NOT ask her permission, they didn't even discuss why they were taking pictures. For all she knows it was a students friend, family or acquaintance taking personal photo's. A magazine shooting for an article should have been more upfront and they ARE liable.
The only way around this is if they were a news crew or reporter doing an article about that particular studio in which case they would have to identify themselves as such and follow the rules of journalism. (what those are get even more sticky)

The bottom line is that I think she probably has every right to persue compensation. I would talk to an attorney about the specifics.

p.s. The other catch is that if the "studio" hired the photographer for a promotion, the "studio" should have notified her of the event because then they (the studio) would be liable for the "students" identities and likeness release. There might be some fine print in a contract that releases this liability if she "works" for the yoga studio.
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Old January 24th, 2003, 01:41 PM   #13
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Thanks Rhett, et al.

I'm going to forward this message to her.
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Old January 26th, 2003, 06:37 AM   #14
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Just a sidenote here... I was watching Joe Milionaire the other night, and as they were strolling through Paris seeing the sites, I would notice that faces in the background had been blurred out. Not everybody's face, just handfulls through the surrounding crowd.

That brought this thread to mind, and made me wonder if those blurry faced people didn't sign the release?
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Old January 26th, 2003, 07:43 AM   #15
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I'm going to be shooting for a show that does a lot of stuff in public places. If someone were to get in trouble for this kind of jazz, is it the videographer himself (me) or the show's producers?
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