As tiresome as it may seem, completing a model release form is a critical step towards avoiding legal issues.

Consider it a legal agreement between you, the photographer, and the person or property owner being photographed. Exceptions apply to animals and deceased models, where the next of kin would sign the release.

It’s understandable if some photographers are hesitant to sign a release form. However, if this is the case, the stock photo can still be used for non-commercial purposes and labeled as “editorial.”

The difference between commercial and editorial usage lies in whether or not money is involved. Commercial usage includes advertisements and products for sale, while editorial usage encompasses non-commercial materials such as newspapers, books, and biographies. To put it simply, the use of the photo determines whether a release form is required, not the photo itself.

To summarize:

  • If you want your photo to be used commercially (e.g. in brochures or advertising), sign the release form.
  • If you don’t want it to be used commercially, feel free to display the photo in your home.
  • If you’re unsure, it’s best to sign the release form for safe measure.

It’s important to keep these signed copyright agreements for safekeeping. Protect yourself from potential legal issues by safeguarding these forms in a secure location.

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