Anywhere we turn today; people are clicking and snapping pictures profusely. In fact, the world of today is heavily dominated by social media, which itself is being run by pictures and photos. Overnight success and overnight failure is just a click away and then it spreads like wildfire from one corner of the world to another.

And maybe it is because of this liberated handling of photos that a large number of people have forgotten about the U.S copyright laws. Yes, pictures and photos are property and ownership of people and can only change hands through proper and legal processes. This process may sound daunting but is in fact, just a matter of one document, the Photo Copyright Release Form. While amateur photographers can take all the pictures they want and leave it for everyone to use and share, the professional photographers, firms and businesses have to take the more legal and official route.

For the newbie who is just venturing into the business or those who have already spent some time in the field without the usage of the Photo Release Form Template, this article is a step by step guide to securing the permission with the help of a Simple Photo Release Form.

Photo Release Form Templates

 

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 What is a photo release form?

Beginning from the very start, a Photo Copyright Release Form is a written permission on paper to secure rights of publishing images of children, people and even properties. For various individuals and businesses, the need for such permission comes out of nowhere or the need is so frequent that keeping a template of a Generic Photo Release Form or a Simple Photo Release Form becomes a requisite.

A Photo Copyright Release Form serves as a proof that the permission has been granted to you or your business to use the photo and the picture property that belongs to another. It is for the better safe than sorry days where the owner might change their mind down the road or might even file for an infringement case.  The last thing you want is to be paying millions to someone who changed his mind after giving you a verbal permission. For better or worse, it is always smart to be prepared for a falling out which is why a Photo Copyright Release Form is a necessity.

What Are The Parties Involved?

The Photo Copyright Release Form is an agreement in written form between the two parties. The first party is the photographer and the other one is the person who is being photographed. In case of a child, the other party will inevitably be the guardian or the parents of the child. In case what is being photographed is an object or a property, then the other party will be the owner of the said property. The form declares and both parties can ensure it by first reviewing the Photo Release Form Template that the right of publishing and sharing the pictures has been granted by the photographed person.

While this often seems like a small endeavor and hardly even takes time. It saves both parties in the future from messy legalities that end up with one person in deep waters and at times, even at the brink of losing their business or their career.

Photo Release Form Samples

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Why Keep a Photo Release Form Template anyway?

A Photo Release Form Template is an already prepared and readied form available for photographers to just printout and use within seconds. It even comes in use when there is a need to show it to the parties prior to taking pictures so that nothing remain amiss from the dealings, leading to accusations of fraud and misguidance later on. The form provides open permission to publish or use the image in any way required and the photographed person provides full consent to it.

When is the right time to bring the photo release form to use?

So you are a photographer and new in business and wondering what should be the right time to bring the form to use? Well, before you have to decide that, make sure that a Photo Copyright Release Form is already available with you.

The right time to bring up the form for signage and agreement is before snapping someone’s picture.  If you are planning to use the picture for your own personal reasons or you are a wedding photographer and have been asked to publish the photographs by the client themselves, the release form must be signed at all costs.

If you are just an amateur photographer and need a picture for personal use, bring up the form and get it signed. If you are a professional photographer then bring the form for agreement at all times, regardless of the purpose or the reason behind taking the photograph in the first place.

Take precautions from falling into the traps of verbal consents, even if the other party is someone you know closely. This is always the smart course of action and makes things super easy to handle in the future, despite your professional or non-professional status.

Simple Photo Release Form

 

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Why the need for paperwork in the first place?

If you are under the impression that this is just a reliable practice created by a group of photographers to protect themselves, then you are wrong. It is law declared by the state government itself. Filling and signing the Photo Copyright Release Form brings the photographers under the protection of the U.S copyright laws.

Those, who want to take the protection to the next level and secure their rights even more firmly, can register their copyrights. Most people confuse the Photo Copyright Release Form with patent and trademark rights though unlike these two, photo copyright is granted the very moment the creative piece is produced.  The form combined with registration helps create a strong case in favor of the photographer should the third party make false claims in the future.

The right to photos can be registered by visiting the United States Copyright Office physically or by visiting the official website. With the payments of a small amount, you can confirm your rights to the photo legally and without much hassle. Remember though that the first step is always getting the Simple Photo Release Form signed.

The Difference Between and a Model Release Form and a Photo Release Form:

The Photo Copyright Release Form is often confused and mixed up with a model release form and ends up with the photographer getting the wrong template for photograph consent. While the two forms seem quite similar and it even takes some time to understand the purpose behind the two, the difference is very much real.

So far, we already know that a Photo Copyright Release Form is an agreement between a photographer and the photographed person (children or an object) in which the latter party provides consent to the photographer to use the image for whatever reasons, personal or otherwise.

The model release form is slightly different. It is a form produced by the model themselves and they get it signed by the photographer. In most photo shoots, both parties produce each release form to secure and protect the deal from their side.

 

Free Photo Release Form

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Administrating Photo Release Form:

To make sure the process of attaining legal rights of a photo goes smoothly, the following steps must be followed:

  • Keep the paperwork at hand:

No matter your line of work, it is your moral and ethical duty to educate yourself on all the right and legal procedures needed to be followed and to always remain prepared for it. Similarly, photographers and photography studios are obliged to always keep a Photo Release Form Template with them so that they produce it within a moment’s notice upon need. Make sure you have several prints available or a printer nearby.

  • Ensure that your template contains all the legible information:

It can lead to major regrets later when the form has been signed and closed at the right time only to discover later that the information in the form was not legible or incomplete. This happens when the form has been attained from an unprofessional source. When printing out a template, make sure to check the following:

  • Words used in the release form are easy to read and understand by the clients without creating any kind of ambiguousness.
  • Check the information present in the form and whether it is complete and states all the right things.
  • Contact information on the release form should be visible and valid.
  • Synchronize the Release Form with the Photo it refers to:

A photography studio takes hundreds of pictures each day and the unorganized manner of relating the form with the picture can cause problems later. As it happens, photo troubles do not always drop by instantly but years and decades later. By that time, photographers might not even remember if they had taken the photo, let alone remember which release form refers to which picture. It would be smart to file photos and release forms in a manner that they associate with each other easily.

  • Benefit From The Advanced Technology:

Gone are the days when paper files used to keep records in check. It is far easier to scan photos and keep it electronically safe with a backup system so that fire, water or theft incidents can keep the files safe and sound.

  • Emails:

Even presidential candidate Hillary Clinton cannot keep her email trails hidden and neither can any model. For secure procedures, make sure that the form alongside the scanned photo and the signed agreement is sent to the model. The email can be traced easily and avoids the messy confusion and refutations later. It even functions as a backup in situations where records might be lost.

Lessons to learn from:

A person can either learn from their mistakes or be wise enough to learn from the mistakes of others. In all rights, a picture is just one small piece of digital paper yet it can cause mountains of troubles. Here are some cases to prove the point:

  • Andrew Leonard is a Microphotography expert and when his stem cells picture was stolen and used by a company on its website and other marketing materials, Leonard was awarded $1.6m because the company refused to produce a photo release form.
  • Even social media is not safe from lack of paperwork. When photojournalist Daniel Morel took the first pictures of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and posted it on his Twitter account, AFP shared it indirectly. The photographer filed a case and the AFP had to pay $1.2m in statutory damages.
  • Corbis is a stock company trusted to keep photos safe. They lost one of their client’s pictures and had to pay $472,000.
  • A photographer named Philip-Lorca diCorcia took a picture of a Jew diamond merchant Nussenzweig. When the latter found his picture in an art gallery and published in a book, he swiftly sued the photographer. Even though diCorcia won the case, it wasted an awful lot of time and money.

Photo Release Form Examples

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The crux is to be aware when you are clicking and capturing things with those cameras of yours. A public place is a safe zone and you can take as many pictures as you want. If it is sight bestowed from nature like a beautiful sunset or a horizon, then snap away. Even newsworthy photos can be taken instantly and sent to the newspaper or a channel.

However, keep your ears up when you have taken a photo of a person, a child or of a private object up-close and went on to use it personally, publicly or for promotional purposes.  It is not just your legal and professional responsibility to take permission to use the photo but also a breach of the right of privacy of the other person in case the picture has been captured and shared without consent.

A Photo Copyright Release Form might be a single page of document but it can save you from losing millions in case someone files a case against you for infringement.

TemplateLab February 12th, 2017

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