Model release for 40 year old photographs

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by edwin_barkdoll, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. I am not familiar with model release legality; since I rarely take photos of people except family I've never thought I had the need for a model release.
    I recently came across negatives I took between 1974 and 1976 of several teenagers or younger, i.e. 10-13 years old. I was about 16 years old myself and had never heard of a model release.
    Without a model release, particularly for children, can any commercial use be made of these 40+ year old photographs?
  2. If you mean commercial in the sense that one usually uses it when discussing the need for model releases, then probably not. But that's a general answer to a general question. It all really depends on the specifcs of the images, the intended uses and the laws that might apply.
  3. By commercial, do you mean licensed for use in advertising and marketing materials, other than advertising or marketing
    your own photographic services?
  4. 1. It depends what country/state you are in. Laws are different in different parts of the world.
    2. It depends what you mean by commercial use. Many people use the term to mean "earn money" but the law defines commercial use in a much stricter manner as "use to advertise, promote or market a cause, product, company or service". Selling prints for example is not commercial use.
  5. david_henderson


    Do you have any reason to believe that there is a commercial market for these photographs, beyond displaying in a gallery or use in a book? If not, there may not be a clear-cut answer .
  6. Thanks for the the helpful responses.

    I would like to submit them to a magazine for publication. They could then be used in their magazine and/or website. I'm
    not sure if that constitutes "commercial" use.

    I guess the best thing would be for me to query the magazine.
  7. david_henderson


    Given that its the publisher of an image that carries the risk ( unless you agree to indemnify them) then if the magazine will accept them without a release then that's a good situation for you. Its unlikely in any case that a release would be necessary if the purpose is editorial in nature. That said getting a release would clearly be difficult to impossible and it would be best to avoid the complexities of whether and how.
  8. Except for advertising, most use of photos in a magazine is editorial -- photos that illustrate a story or occasionally stand by themselves. That is not commercial use.

    What is the context here? What story would these photos go with? Why does the magazine want photos from 40 years ago and why these specific photos?

    You say you want to "submit them to a magazine for publication." Has a magazine approached you? Have you established that the magazine is interested? Simply sending in random pictures in the hope that someonne might want to publish them isn't the way it's done. Photos are usually purchased to accompany a story, and a photographer has to know about the story and the magazine's specific needs in order to know what to offer.
  9. Craig, I've published in this magazine before without being approached - i.e. by sending in "random" pictures. If it works I'm happy, if not nothing lost. However that is not really relevant to my original question.
  10. Well actually what Craig wrote is very relevant to your original question. Its easy to get confused by the terms "commercial use". So you need to say what kind of use is being contemplated. Editorial as Craig discussed can be paid work and the photos sold to a magazine, or the magazine can be bought and sold and the photographs not be considered a "commercial use" for which a release is needed.
  11. Edwin, if you got published that way, congratulations. Clearly there are some exceptions to what I said. Whichever way you get into print, unless it's advertising, most magazine use is going to fall under editorial, and no release is needed for editorial. If the magazine wants to use the photos in a way that needs a release, they will ask you for one. So go ahead and send the photos and see what happens.
  12. Again, thanks for the comments. I'll see what happens.

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