Model releases are important for influencers who work with photographers to create content for their social platforms. These influencers should be educated on ways to avoid legal pitfalls and protect their brand image as well as personal image. One way influencers can do this is by obtaining a model release. In this blog, we will explore what a model release is, why it is important, and the risks one may face with not implementing one.
What is a model release?
A model release is a legally binding agreement between a photographer and a model. A strong model release should address specific things the model authorizes the photographer to do or not do. For example, an agreement can state whether or not the model authorizes a photo to be published, an image to be used commercially, or use of the image for advertising and editing.
The agreement should also address what rights the model has to the photos and whether there are any circumstances in which she will be further compensated beyond the agreed amount. In order for the agreement to be valid, the photographer and model must both be named and sign the document. In the event the photographer is not a solo practitioner and employs vendors or distributors, you will want the agreement to incorporate language that extends to their assigns.
Why is a model release important?
1. Legal Protection: Utilizing a model release gives models a legal remedy if the photographer acts in a way that violates the terms agreed upon. Without memorializing the terms in writing, it will be nearly impossible to prove you had an agreement or stop the photographer from using the content as he pleases.
2. Image & Brand Reputation: As a model, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where a photographer owns the rights to unflattering or inappropriate pictures of you and can use them without your consent. Model release agreements can be tailored so that only content which the model approves is released. A strong model release will ensure that the photographer cannot use the content without the influencer's consent. This protects the influencer's image and brand by giving them the final say in what is published.
3. Long-Term Partnerships: Models who want to secure long-term partnerships must establish trust with the photographers. Consistently using model release agreements communicates transparency and displays professionalism and responsibility, which will make photographers want to work with you more.
What are the risks of not having a model release?
1. Legal consequences: Absent a model release, models run the risk of photographers owning all the rights to their pictures. This includes the right to use them as well as license them to others. Models who find themselves in this unfortunate situation may incur expensive legal fees just attempting to rectify it.
2. Negative publicity: The negative publicity that comes with the unauthorized use of your photos can vary depending on the content. However, most models would probably agree that an embarrassing photo leak could harm their reputation that they have worked hard to build. Rather than risking your image, protect yourself with a model release.
3. Brand backlash: Models who elect to skip model releases may cause the brands they partner with to face backlash as well. The brand may suffer financial and reputational harm, which will make that brand less likely to continue working with that model in the future.
Contact Venustas Law for more information about how a model release can benefit you. Our firm can help draft and/ or review your agreement to make sure it properly protects you.