Suppose you have recently signed with a modelling agency, wishing to channel your inner Margaret Zhang. Or suppose you have just established your start-up photography business with a friend, taking obligatory photos at 21st, official functions or headshots for people to upload to every social media platform.

What is a model release form?

A model release form is a legal and binding contract drawn up between a photograph and model either before or after a shoot. If an item of publication features any identifiable person on video or photography, a release form is required. Essentially, release forms allow for more freedom regarding the use and publication of images when they are used for commercial purposes.

But how do you determine when you need a model release form? The answer – if it isn’t considered essential for informational or educational purposes, but rather for a commercial purpose involving money passing hands, a release form is recommended.

Upon signing the release form, models agree to have their image promote a commercial purpose, recognising that the photo is the photographer’s property and allowing the photographer to be the recipient of any profits and protecting him/her from future disputes.

A sample model release form would consist of the personal details of the model and photographer as well as a description of the images and the context in which it was taken.

Who uses these forms?

Model Release forms are typically used by;

  • Photographers who would like the rights to photographs of models or any persons who wish to publish content of identifiable people; and
  • Models who are asked to consent to transfer their rights to someone else.

Note that for models under the age of 19, a legal guardian must countersign the form on the child’s behalf. The forms are encouraged to be in writing.

Why are the forms important?

The model release form protects the privacy of the model while simultaneously allowing for the use and publication of the images. In the rise of the social media era where digital content can be easily spread and distributed online, the forms enable the protection of the publication of digital images. The permission of the images to be included is acknowledged, a lack of which would result in the publication of images on the web which could be potentially incriminating for oneself, to others or for the company he/she works for.

Implications of signing the forms:

In signing, the model gives the photographer all publication rights to all images. It is effective from the date of signature to the end of time. There is no right after signature to ask the photographer to destroy particular images.

Unsure where to start? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from one our network of 600+ expert lawyers or any other legal needs.

Dominic Woolrych

Dominic is the CEO of LawPath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.