Need releases for outdoor festival?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by AzDavid, Feb 27, 2017.

  1. I've volunteered to provide photography services for a non-profit organization that sponsors an annual outdoor festival with exhibits and demonstrations. It's all set in and along a few downtown city streets. I imagine my job is part documentary. But it's also likely the organization will use images I supply to promote themselves and future events. So ... what say you regarding photo releases? Do I need releases or no?
  2. If you're in the USA shooting in city streets does not require a release.
  3. Clarification? Agreed release not required for shooting, but use=?. I thought that the use determined need for release, and OP indicated images would be used for commercial purpose?
  4. Hey Wayne, good point. Ok, neither of us is an attorney (disclaimer). IMHO this is another area where the law has not caught up with the tech. This sounds like photo journalistic use even if the images are used in advertising the event/entity. Simply using images commercially does not necessarily require a release. Posting marketing shots on an entities website is quite a bit different than publishing 100,000 posters and selling the posters. Also, if these are event photos and the individuals in them are not readily identifiable and not clearly the main subject there should be no need for a release. Then there's the questions of trademark/servicemark. If perhaps an individual has trademarked their likeness or if a company logo is protected likewise and appears as a main element in the photo there could be contention. But the likelihood of any of that is low...again IMHO. If I'm shooting a wedding and doing portraits at a park or beach, there may be some bystanders or a logo in the image. I don't worry about that, even though I may use those shots or a venue may use them for marketing purposes. In those cases the client/couple may have received a discount for signing a model release but the bystanders did not. I just think that there is so much of this going on it would not be possible/feasible for anyone to try to run that down, let alone prove damages. Just my 2 cents.
  5. Bob and Wayne ... thank you guys for your comments. I think this discussion underscores how something that seems simple and straight forward might actually be more complex. And that's why I posted the question. The situation turned out to be even more complicated. In addition to city streets, the festival included a handful of indoor private business spaces as well as a museum with a courtyard and classroom spaces. I felt as though photographing people on city streets for documentary purposes was fairly simple as far as releases go ... not necessary. But inside a private business? A museum? And then there're the possible commercial uses that I alluded to in the original post.
  6. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    The specific laws will change depending upon location and you don’t state that, but your Bio indicates that you are probably (still) in the USA.

    The commentaries by Jeff Spirer (Spearhead) in this thread may be relevant to the potential COMMERCIAL USE of images in the USA, even if the “organization” is not for profit. He provides a reference to the California’s Code. I expect that with your journalist’s experience, it won’t take you much time to source the relevant Code in your own State.

    Note that I am referring to the USE of the images and this is separate to any laws regarding the MAKING of the image. I expect that outside in a street in mostly all situations in the USA you are free to make as many images as you like, but the relevant issue apropos “Releases” is concerning the commercial use of those images, for example the promotion of the organization.

    However, I think that you should consider additional issues apropos the MAKING of images at: “indoor private business spaces as well as a museum with a courtyard and classroom spaces.” What I mean is if these images are used for commercial purposes, then, just the same as for the “street photography” you’ll need releases for that “commercial purpose”, but additionally, you might need a document (here in AUS it is colloquially termed “permission to shoot”) to MAKE the image, i.e. to actually take a Photograph, even if that image is never intended or used for any commercial purpose.

    Additionally, you should also consider that images made of Private (and sometimes Public) areas or property, even if there are no people in the image, could also require a Release from the Entity who owns or administers that area, if that image is to be used for a commercial purpose.

    BTW and as an example only, in Aus., when using an image “for commercial purposes”, it would generally be the responsibility of the PUBLISHER of the image to have the Releases; in your case from what you’ve written, I glean that would be the “non-profit organization’s” responsibility to have those releases: but my experience is that often the management of many such organizations is not au fait with the particular requirements regarding Releases and if there is an issue later it could have an impact on you.

  7. You might consider all of the photographs used for commercial purposes that are taken at pubic events. Every sporting event, for example. I'm not expressing an opinion about your specific situation, but clearly releases are not individually obtained from everyone in the stadium at a sporting event. There may be a disclaimer on the ticket to the event that constitutes a release. I would discuss this with the event organizers.
  8. But the use of the image is what determines the necessity for a release. When you buy a ticket to a sporting event, there's an implied contract created, and sometimes printed on the back of the ticket that says you release your image to the team. But even with that, the team cannot use your image to promote the team, without further paperwork.

    Releases are needed ONLY for commercial use (i.e., promotion of a product). Merely selling an print of someone is NOT COMMERCIAL use. That seems to be the thing that confuses most people. Selling an image does not necessarily constitute commercial use.
  9. ",,,Releases are needed ONLY for commercial use (i.e., promotion of a product).,,,,"
    Assuming (and correct me if I'm wrong) service(s) are 'equivilent' to product in requirements, the OP specificaly mentioned promotion of the event as future use.
    The organization is a no-profit, but maybe still charging admission, etc., which 'may' constitute commercial use???
  10. The issue is whether or not the person would seem to endorse whatever the commercial use is. However, it it is a a crowd image or only an implication that the person was present, I believe that would be considered fair use and covered by the terms agreed to as a condition of entrance.
  11. B
    Better to be safe than sorry. The real responsibility for obtaining a release lies with the publisher, but if someone sues, they will likely include the photographer. Which means lawyer fees just to defend. Not my idea of fun.
  12. After reading the whole post, I have learned more about this topic. Thank you so much.
  13. I discussed this exact issue with my attorney. The photographer is not responsible for usage; however, if you're seen to have deep pockets, then you will most likely get sued, along with the publisher, if there's an issue. He recommended and I used this language:

    5. Indemnification: Licensee agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Licensor against any damages, losses, or expenses (including but not limited to attorney’s fees) in connection with any use of the Work, except for any claims based solely upon ownership rights in and to the Photographs.
    William Michael likes this.
  14. BTW, selling a print to a restaurant that's going to hang it one their business walls is "commercial use", or close enough to get you sued. Remember, in the USA, there's no "loser pays", so plaintiff's counsel does not need to have an airtight case to sue you. Part of the typical extortion plan is to get you to pay something close to your cost to defend. Insurance is your friend.
  15. Thank you for the continuing input on this topic. I learn from everything stated here. Just a couple updates ... Due to the ambiguity of how the photos might be used in the future, a lawyer who specializes in this topic helped me create a "hold harmless" release form that I then had the non-profit organization sign. They were nice about it but a little baffled because "nobody ever asked for anything like this before." This is typical of what I find when volunteering for non-profits. I shot for a major museum that often held off-site events at businesses and schools. I was always the first to ask about releases and/or parent permission to photograph minors. The museum's reluctance to address the issue properly was a factor in my ending my volunteer service there.
  16. For on-site shooting of a museum, if you will "publish" anything, you'll also want a release.
  17. I agree and even drafted a photo release that they could have used on site. However, the museum insisted it wasn't necessary because there's a sign at the entrance that says visitors might be photographed while in the building. They used photos I produced in everything from social media posts to email marketing. Personally, I turned over all photos to the museum and never entertained the notion that I might use them on my own. I volunteered for the experience. The museum was a very challenging place to photograph and gave me a lot of opportunities to practice.

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