Model Release to Print photos?!??!?!?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by err, May 29, 2006.

  1. err


    hi everyone i shoot my friends and family for fun. but it seems like everytime
    they get thier photos printed they are asked for a relase, especially in
    walmart. i do not understand why they should have a release, i ask them to
    sign a release for me. but i had no idea about releases for the photos to be

    can someone explain?
  2. If there is a copyright anywhere on a print or a negative places like Walgreens will not develop or duplicate anything because they will become liable for reproducing copyrighted material. It seems kind of absurd until you think about what would happen if they developed or duplicated anything anyone brought in. Imagine someone buying a print off of you then saying hey I want this in all the rooms in my house. They take it down to Walgreens and ask the tech to just duplicate your copyrighted image a few times for next to nothing. So to protect themselves against lawsuits and also somewhat to protect the copyright system they ask for a release from the photographer.
  3. Not a "model release", the form you need is called a "photo release" or "publication release". It protects the photographer (or anyone the photographer has assigned copyright to, such as in a "work for hire" situation).

    WalMart doesn't care about model releases: any beef a model has, they have with you, not WalMart. WalMart cares about printing work that may be copyrighted by a professional photographer or studio, because the pro can sue WalMart for outrageous damages. Some of the big chain studios like Olan Mills have large batteries of lawyers...

    The form will read something like:

    I, Greg Gantos, the author of the photograph titled _________ do grant ________________ the right to print copies of this photograph at the local WalMart.

    Except that a real release will be much longer. ;)
  4. Scott, it's no longer a question of copyright notices on the print. Most of the printing is done with self serve kiosks. The user plops the print on the scanner, and then can move a crop box around. Then it's sent to the printer. So, the clerk who mans the printer never sees a copyright notice on the back of the print, and may not see on eon the front, if the user cropped it away.

    Or the user may have scanned the image themselves, cropped away a copyright notice, or used the healing brush on it (PhotoShop is a two edged sword) and taken a CD of JPEGs to Walmart or Costco to print. The clerk running the printer can't tell the difference between JPEGs that Gregg shot and gave to his friends and family, and JPEGs that were originally prints from Olan Mills that were scanned and had their logos cropped or "healed" away. So, they take the high ground: if it looks professional, they won't print it.

    Now, a show of hands from everyone on who thinks their own work looks more professional than Olan Mills or the Sears Portrait Studio, with their lights set up in advance, and "one-shot-fits-all" training.
  5. At the kiosks that I have used at Walgreens/CVS/Walmart and Target a worker from each store has to enter a code (usually the stores zip code or address) in order to print the pictures scanned in. Its at this point they check over the images printed or scanned and if it looks to be from a "professional" they will ask to see the original. If its copyrighted then they say nope you cannot have this print. If you decide to PS a copyright notice or logo off of an image most professionals have assigned this information in the images metadata that a technician will be able to view before printing. I am not saying it cannot be done just that it seems stores in my area check a little bit more than in others.
  6. err


    thanks guys, that really cleared up everything for me. but to make sure,

    i also have to give them a photo release saying "i gregg cantos alows so and so to get his/her photo printed" ?
  7. I give my clients an image CD with a signed release on my letterhead. It reads:

    Copyright Release

    To whom it may concern:

    I give my permission for the unlimited printing of images contained on the portrait CD titled "Liz and Jeremy."

    Thank you,

    (my signature)

    Cindy Singleton

    This seems to satisfy even the most difficult Walmart technicians.
  8. I understand that Walmart actually HAS been sued over this, it's not just a "what-if" situation.

    Next time you're in Walmart, you might just ask if they have a release form for the occasion.
  9. One two occasions, Walgreens refuses to give me the printed photos that I had submitted for printing thruogh the internet. Their main reason is that I don't look like a professional photographer. I think this is discrimination at it's best, when the way you look determine the service you get.

    My telling them that I am not a pro, and that I had taken the photos with my own studio lights and a cheap black back drop did not help. They ask to see the negative. The NEGATIVES, helloooooo, I submitted this via the internet. It's a digital file!

    So, I no longer use Walgreens, their policy is a joke. They will print bad photo, but not good ones. The will only print the "professional ones" if you look like a professional.

    I was pissed, not at the policy as much, but at holding back the images when I went to the store to pick them up. It was printed but they cannot release them to me. OK, why did not anyone call or email me to tell me that they cannot release the printed images without any prove. NOOOO, I had to drive to the store and then be confronted by a clerk telling me that I am not good enough to take these photos, and he is not going to release them to me.

    What a way to do business. I get them printed a Longs, no question asked at all and much better quality then Walgreens.
  10. err


    yeah, they can be jerks.. as what germans say.. sie sind sheizkopfs..
    they are shitheads.. but thanks for clearing everthing up guys, and sharing some of your experiences .. oh please crtique my work.. dont be too nice..
  11. Two thoughts: don't send your photos to Walgreens when you can use a professional service like mpix for around $3 an 8x10. Kind of tired of hearing about people complaining that they can't get professional quality prints at the drug store or Wal-Mart. These aren't exactly pro labs. Second, "photo a professional MAY have copyrightted." Under current copyright law, the copyright to an image belongs to the person who created it automatically. There is no legal requirement to place a copyright notice on the image or to register the image with the copyright office, althought as a practical matter you have to do that if you want to enforce your rights to the image. Go to, nagivate to the copyright office section and do some reading.
  12. Walmart provides the form on their web site's photo center section.
  13. Some people have taken to including a jpg version of the "release" on the CD, then the clerk can bring that up and read it as well.
  14. It is quite tiring to hear people complain about places like Walgreens not printing professional or "professional-looking" photos. What does anyone expect? You are asking a person who is making $8-10 an hour to be able to decide what is professional and what is not to help a mult-billion dollar corporation avoid possible lawsuit situations. I applaud my employees for having enough conviction to stand up to pushy customers who mostly feel the bigger the stink they make, the more likely they are to get what they want. If something looks professional, ie. backgrounds, lighting, settings, etc. then don't print it. Also, I don't understand why someone who has their own lighting, backgrounds, etc. wouldn't also have their own photo printer? Seems pretty lame to me to be a semi "pro" and not have your own printer. They are very reasonable for pretty good quality--especially if most people feel retail chain photo labs' quality isn't that great. I also enjoy when people try to side-step copyrights by sending professional photos mixed in with other digital photos over the internet--seems a pretty sneaky thing to do for something that is not a "big deal". Follow the law or print them yourself--stop bitching about the so-called "shitheads".
  15. Yes it is quite tiring.
    I work in the photo dept. of a Walmart.
    For me to be evaluating the professionalism of anyones photos is a total joke. If someone comes in with a signed release from a photographer, even though I know they forged the signature, am I really supposed to police the digital copyright world? Give me a break!!! Photographers...listen up! Some of your stuff is going to get copied illegally!!! Don't try laying the responsibility on me of interpreting copyright law all day long?!!! Ar you kidding me? I'm not a lawyer!!! I'm just an idiot employee at the stupid Walmart photo lab!!!

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