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Are you a photographer, artist, or model looking to acquire or protect rights to images? You are going to need a model release form. This document ensures that images of models are obtained and used legally.
What's in this guide?
- What is a model release form?
- When should I use a model release form?
- What does a model release form include and not include?
- Model release form vs. licensing agreement
- How effective is a model release form?
- Do I need a lawyer for a model release form?
- Get access to customisable model release form templates online
- How do I write a model release form?
- Where to get free documents like a model release form
- Frequently asked questions
What is a model release form?
A model release form is a legal document between a photographer and a model that defines how and where the images may be used and the basis for compensation.
The document gives artists the full legal right to acquire images of an individual (i.e., the "model") who has been photographed or filmed in their work. The form basically "releases" the rights to the specific images to the photographer or artist. In this scenario, the model agrees that the artist can do anything they would like with the photographs, including publishing, distributing, or editing.
Download this template at Lawpath
When should I use a model release form?
You should use a model release form if:
- You are a model who wants to give the photographer the right to use the photographs for commercial or other purposes.
- You are a photographer who would like to obtain permission to use pictures from the model you are photographing.
- You are any type of artist who needs legal permission to use images of a model in their work.
Other names for a model release form include:
- Model release agreement
- Model deed of release
- Photo release form
- Release agreement
What does a model release form include and not include?
A model release form includes:
- Information about the photographs, images, or videos
- Assignment of full copyright
- Assignment of full rights to use photographs, videos, or other images
- Purpose of use and restrictions (if any)
- Claims and liability
A model release form does not include:
- Legal provisions for images that are taken in public
Model release form vs. licensing agreement
A licensing agreement is where one party (the licensor) grants another party (the licensee) the right to produce and sell goods or apply a brand name owned by the licensor. A model release form is different because the model doesn't own the photographs, which means there is nothing to "license" to the other party per se. They are simply agreeing to terms by which their images can be used in the future.
How effective is a model release form?
A model release form is effective in protecting both the photographer and the model in the event of any dispute. When written clearly, a model release form grants permission to the photographer to use images of a particular person without infringing intellectual property, copyright, privacy, or contract law.
A model release form can help in the following:
- Define how the model will be paid
- Establish certain restrictions where the photos may be used
- Avoid copyright infringement
- Ensure that a parent or guardian can protect a model's interests if he or she is under 18
Do I need a lawyer for a model release form?
There are many online templates that give you general guidelines for putting together a model release form. If you are dealing with more complex matters, it's generally recommended that you seek out the advice of a lawyer. This is especially the case if a model would like to place certain restrictions on how their images may be used in the future. Because model release forms in Australia may be affected by a myriad of laws (intellectual property, copyright, privacy, contract) it's always good practice to have a lawyer review your document.
Get access to customisable model release form templates online
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How do I write a model release form?
While there are many online templates to choose from, a model release form should be reviewed by a lawyer who can customise your contract and advise you on applicable law.
A template can still be useful in providing broad details about the photographs, their intended use, and the assignment of rights from model to photographer.
Where to get free documents like a model release form
Model release forms vary in length, but you can get a general idea of what they entail by visiting a legal website and downloading a template. Here's a list of websites that allow you to view and download a model release form for free:
- Lawpath: Lawpath provides details about a model release form and lets you browse free samples. You'll need to sign up to access customisation options.
- Lawdepot: Lawdepot provides several model release form templates. You can fill them before downloading the documents directly to your computer.
- Wonder.Legal: With Wonder.Legal, you can fill out a model release form online and download it straight to your computer
Frequently asked questions
Are there different types of model release forms?
Yes, model release forms have several types of release, including:
- Adult release (intended for use by models over 18)
- Minor release (intended for use by models below the age of minority)
- Group release (a modified adult release form that accommodates multiple models in a single image)
Is a model release form needed for photos taken in public?
Typically, photos that are taken in public do not require a model release form unless the image is going to be used for an endorsement.
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