When do I need a Model or Property Release?

When do I need a model release?

When uploading footage, audio, images or photographs that depict recognisable human beings or identifiable buildings you must acquire a signed release form.

What are Model And Property Releases?

A model release is a legal release signed by the subject of a photograph or video granting permission to use or publish the photograph or video in one form or another. You can read a full description of what a model release is at Wikipedia.

If you are including in your item the face or identifiable features of any person on video, photograph, or a traced illustration, you will need a signed model release from that person.

A property release is a legal release signed by the owner of property used in a photograph or video granting permission to use or publish the photograph or video in one form or another.

If you are including the depiction of recognizable private property on video on video, photograph, or a traced illustration, you will need a signed location release from the property owner.

Authors do not need one for public property, such as government buildings (although you  may run into problems just from photographing/videoing them, for security reasons!). But for images of private property — and particularly of objects that are closely identified with specific people —  photographers are urged to get a release.

Most animals in zoos are the property of the zoo and usually cannot be used for commercial purposes without the consent of the zoo.

Commercial vs Editorial Use

If an image featuring people or property is used in an advertisement or promotion it requires a release form, but the author may be able to sell an image for “Editorial use” even if it doesn’t have a release. Since, at this point in time Envato does not offer Editorial licenses, any image, likeness, or depiction uploaded to the PhotoDune site containing an easily recognised person or prominent, trade-mark protected property must have attached to it the correct forms.

Commercial Use: Defined as any media to which money exchanges hands. Money could be paid for the subject of the photograph/footage/media or the media itself. Wholesale, retail, and professional uses of photography would fall under this definition. The commercial photographic world could include: Advertising photography - photographs made to illustrate and usually sell a service or product. These images are generally done with an advertising agency, design firm or with an in-house corporate design team.

Editorial Use: when an image is used in conjunction with, and to illustrate, a news related story or any non-commercial text demanding imagery. Examples include magazines, newspapers, features and books.

Sample Release Agreements

It is your responsibility to ensure you use the correct model and property release for your projects, and that they protect both yourself and models you work with or the owner of any private property used. However, we do have several standard release templates that you may choose to use, under the understanding that Envato can accept no responsibility for any liabilities you may incur.

Here is the Envato Marketplace property release:

  • Adult Release (PDF) - This is the form most commonly referred to as a "model release". The language of this release is intended for use by models over the age of 18
  • Minor Release – Minor (PDF) -This variant of the model release contains language referring to the model (who is a minor) in the third-person, and required signature by a parent or other legal guardian of the model. A release which is not signed by a parent or guardian affords no legal protection to the publisher.
  • Property Release (PDF) - If you are including the depiction of recognizable private property on video, photograph, or a traced illustration, you will need a signed location release from the property owner.

Property Release Examples

Below is a short list containing a number of internationally recognized buildings and monuments which demand a property release. This is a selected, list of content aimed at giving you insight into what may require a release.  It is incumbent on the photographer to obtain a property release when required.

  • British Royal Residences - (UK)
  • Chrysler Building - allowed only in cityscapes including the Chrysler Building, as long as it is not the primary subject of the photo (New York, NY)
  • CN Tower - allowed only in cityscapes including the CN Tower, as long as it is not the primary subject of the photo (Toronto, Canada)
  • Eiffel Tower Lights - photos taken at night when the lights are aglow are subjected to copyright laws, and fees for the right to publish must be paid (Paris, France)
  • Empire State Building - allowed only in cityscapes including the Empire State Building, as long as it is not the primary subject of the photo (New York, NY)
  • Flatiron Building - allowed only in cityscapes including the Flatiron Building, as long as it is not the primary subject of the photo (New York, NY)
  • The Getty, The Getty Center, & The J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles, CA)
  • The Gherkin - images of the building where it is the predominant aspect of the image may not be used commercially without a property release (London, UK)
  • Graceland (Memphis, TN)
  • Grauman's Chinese Theatre (Hollywood, CA)
  • Hearst Castle and San Simeon State Historical Monument (San Simeon, CA)
  • Hollywood Sign (Hollywood, CA)
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame (Los Angeles, CA)
  • London Eye Millennium Wheel - allowed only in cityscapes including the London Eye Millennium Wheel, as long as it is not the primary subject of the photo (London, UK)
  • New Orleans Superdome (New Orleans, LA)
  • Newport Mansions - details (Newport, RI)
  • NY Stock Exchange - allowed only in cityscapes including the NY Stock Exchange, as long as it is not the primary subject of the photo (New York, NY)
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland, OH)
  • Rockefeller Center – all buildings and sculptures. Allowed only in cityscapes including the building, as long as it is not the primary subject of the photo
  • Willis Tower - allowed only in cityscapes including the Transamerica Pyramid, as long as it is not the primary subject of the photo (Chicago, IL)
  • Seattle Space Needle - allowed only in cityscapes when it is not the primary subject of the photo (Seattle, WA)
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  • Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia)
  • Universal Studios, including logos, images from theme parks, attractions, products, productions, movies, or characters.
  • Disney Studios and theme parks, including logos, images from theme parks, attractions, products, productions, movies, or characters.

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