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Photo Release basics

A signed Photo Release form (also called a Model Release) essentially releases the model's ownership of the images captured to you or your company. With this permission, you can use the photos as you desire, whether it be for a creative art project or for a commercial advertising campaign. It is always a good idea to obtain a Model Release. In fact, some of your clients may require that you have photography releases to use your images in their projects especially if the photos include minors.


Use the Photo Release document if:

  • You're taking someone's photo for your personal or professional use.
  • You're a professional photographer.
  • You're taking photographs that include children.

You should probably have a Photo Release available whenever you're snapping someone's picture. It's your legal permission slip to use the photo for your own purposes. Maybe you're planning on creating stock photos, or maybe you're designing a new brochure. No matter what your reason, it's important to protect yourself and your company since someone's verbal consent is difficult to prove. Having a Photo Release signed by everyone is not only simple to obtain but smart.


When do I need a photo release form?


A photo release is needed whenever you wish to use another's likeness for any type of project. Likeness, in a legal sense, is one's appearance or reputation and without the model release the one photographed owns that likeness. While recording laws in many states allow you to take pictures in public spaces, using those images for mass distribution or a commercial project is not always protected. To protect your and your clients, you should always obtain a model release.

If you'd like more information, check out our article further detailing when you need a photo release. We also provide Video Release forms.


Are my photos protected by copyright law?


Yes, photographs are protected by U.S. copyright law. Copyright protection, as opposed to patents and trademarks, affect creative works of authorship and are granted to the work the moment it is created. Although protection is generally automatic, it is also possible to register your copyright. Doing so can help strengthen your legal case should you ever need to defend your copyright in court.

If you're interested in registering a copyright for one of your photos you can do so through the United States Copyright Office. The office allows both online and traditional paper registration for a fee. Photographs are considered examples of visual arts and can be protected. A detailed overview of the process can be found at the U.S. Copyright Office's website.


Can I sell or transfer my photo copyright?


Yes, it is entirely possible to transfer intellectual property rights to another individual or business. Legally speaking, owning a copyright is often referred to as having title. The rights granted by holding title can be given to another with a Copyright Assignment. This typically will take place in a standard contract with any compensation and stipulations contained within.


Sample Photo Release

More than just a template, our step-by-step interview process makes it easy to create a Photo Release.

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Photo Release basics

You should probably have a Photo Release available whenever you're snapping someone's picture. It's your legal permission slip to use the photo for your own purposes. Maybe you're planning on creating stock photos, or maybe you're designing a new brochure. No matter what your reason, it's important to protect yourself and your company since someone's verbal consent is difficult to prove. Having a Photo Release signed by everyone is not only simple to obtain but smart.


When do I need a photo release form?


A photo release is needed whenever you wish to use another's likeness for any type of project. Likeness, in a legal sense, is one's appearance or reputation and without the model release the one photographed owns that likeness. While recording laws in many states allow you to take pictures in public spaces, using those images for mass distribution or a commercial project is not always protected. To protect your and your clients, you should always obtain a model release.

If you'd like more information, check out our article further detailing when you need a photo release. We also provide Video Release forms.


Are my photos protected by copyright law?


Yes, photographs are protected by U.S. copyright law. Copyright protection, as opposed to patents and trademarks, affect creative works of authorship and are granted to the work the moment it is created. Although protection is generally automatic, it is also possible to register your copyright. Doing so can help strengthen your legal case should you ever need to defend your copyright in court.

If you're interested in registering a copyright for one of your photos you can do so through the United States Copyright Office. The office allows both online and traditional paper registration for a fee. Photographs are considered examples of visual arts and can be protected. A detailed overview of the process can be found at the U.S. Copyright Office's website.


Can I sell or transfer my photo copyright?


Yes, it is entirely possible to transfer intellectual property rights to another individual or business. Legally speaking, owning a copyright is often referred to as having title. The rights granted by holding title can be given to another with a Copyright Assignment. This typically will take place in a standard contract with any compensation and stipulations contained within.

Use the Photo Release document if:
  • You're taking someone's photo for your personal or professional use.
  • You're a professional photographer.
  • You're taking photographs that include children.
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