Calne Camera Club

Are Model Releases Necessary?

Do you take pictures of people? Do you even perhaps do it without consent? In a street scene perhaps. Or worst case scenario have you ever spent a small fortune on hiring a studio, paid outrageous sums of money to some pretty young thing to model for you. Spent hours at the computer Photoshoping away like a demon. Then had an email that says I want you to delete all my pictures and not use them anywhere because "I've got a new boyfriend and he doesn't want other people looking at me!"

I have recently had a few exchanges with other photgraphers on the subject of Model Releases. I have been told quite forcefully that I could not publish any pictures without getting a signed release. That I could not enter my pictures into a competition without first having said release.

I have heard this time and again over the years and most peoples opinion is based on information emanating from outside the UK where laws are often different to our own. People can often get quite vehement in their opposition but in any argument it is difficult to prove that which does not exist.

Because I photograph a lot of people, I have been asked on several occasions, do I think a release is necessary.
I think not, this is my opinion, and that's all it is, an opinion. Please read the disclaimer.

Despite Gettty Images' pervasive influence, US law is not UK law.

A search of UK Government's web site   (new window)  reveals no mention of "Model Release".
Nor do similar searches at the Intellectual Property Office   (new window)

But there has been in recent years a few useful Court judgements.

In The High Court Of Justice, Chancery Division, Intellectual Property;   Mr Justice Birss said:
It is important to state at the outset that this case is not concerned with so called "image rights". Whatever may be the position elsewhere in the world, and how ever much various celebrities may wish there were, there is today in England no such thing as a free standing general right by a famous person (or anyone else) to control the reproduction of their image.
In another judgement Baroness Hale of Richmond made clear that "in this country we do not recognise a right to one's own image"
Copies of these Judgements can be found here (top of page 2)  (new window)
and here (bottom of page 10)  (new window)

Selling images implying endorsement of a product or opinion is a whole different matter as these same judgements will show.

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