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Under-age model release loophole?

joseph ho , May 23, 2002; 06:48 a.m.

I won't be 18 till September and I'm planning to work with a 17-year-old model two weeks from now. On release forms I have seen, it is indicated that model under 18 must get a parent signature for the shots to be released. What if the photographer is under 18 as well? If my signature means nothing then can't I just skip the release, shoot the pictures and distribute at my heart's desire? There isn't anything else I could do. It seems completely ridiculous that someone other than myself has to sign for me to accept the rights! By being under 18, does that make me less likely to run into trouble? What if I shoot them now and distribute after my birthday?


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Brian Mottershead , May 23, 2002; 07:38 a.m.

No, there is no loophole. Until you are 18, your parents are responsible for your behaviour. This probably makes you (and them) an even more juicy target than if you were 18.5, since 18.5 year-olds generally don't have any assets to go after, and your parents probably do, like your college fund.

Will Perlis , May 23, 2002; 07:40 a.m.

If I were the model's father and assuming I cared enough, I'd file suits against your parents or whoever is legally responsible for you and make their lives miserable enough to make yours equally so.

I'd also start digging. Being under 18 doesn't quite provide a free pass for everything. What's your relationship with her? More than just shooter and model? Would you like to find out how a statutory rape prosecution works?

Lucas Griego , May 23, 2002; 09:03 a.m.

Joseph, Why make your life harder? What's the point in finding a loophole anyhow? If you ever plan to become a professional photographer the model release and being able to step up to bat and ask someone to sign one are a simple fact of life. Learn to deal with now.

As long as everything is on the up and up with your shots (e.g. your not just trying to get her kit off or shoot amatuer porn) then you haven't got much to worry about when it comes to getting the model release signed. Be up front about it... save yourself the trouble... or in this case save yourself and your parents the trouble. Just learn how to do it the correct way now. Good luck.

Mark Ci , May 23, 2002; 10:42 a.m.

Jesus Christ, how did you get from modeling to nudity, let alone statutory rape? I mean, lets automatically assume the worst. 17 is above the age of consent in most states anyway.

If you're under 18 you can't sign a contract. Neither can your model. Life is unfair - deal with it.

Timothy Pastore , May 23, 2002; 11:08 a.m.


to let a verbal slip of sacralage that may offend someone is one thing, but to type it and leave it is a little disrespectful.

Don't take offense to this, I'm not trying to be mean, just trying to bring to your attention.

Joseph - I wouldn't go LOOKING for loopholes, you'll only end up in more trouble than you imagined.

Preston Merchant , May 23, 2002; 11:15 a.m.

At no point did Mr. Ho say that he was going to shoot a 17 year old in the nude.

peter nelson , May 23, 2002; 11:28 a.m.

There is an interesting question buried in all this.

Back in the 60's I took thousands of photos of my fellow high school students in all kinds of circumstances - in class, in the cafeteria, smoking in the boy's room, at home, at parties, etc. Of course we were all minors. Today most of us are old enough to be in the AARP.

I've been nervous about putting these on my website because they involve minors, and as an artist I've been interested in using them in art compositions, as well, but I'm unclear on the legal issues.

One reason why these questions keep coming up here OVER AND OVER AGAIN is that the typical "legal handbook for photographers" sorts of publications only address the most numbingly obvious and simplistic situations like whether you need a model release for a picture you took in your studio of a model holding a torque wrench that you intend to sell to the wrench company for their ads, or do you need one for glamour photos that are going to be published in a men's magazine, or do you need one for photos of your wife that you intend to keep in a shoebox in your drawer? (yes, yes, no)

We're going to keep getting these questions until some bright photographer-lawyer publishes a book that addresses real-world corner cases and settles disputes over definitions, like where web-publishing, photographers' portfolios, etc fall in all this, or what exactly is editorial photography in the context of modern media like web-publishing, 'zines, etc.

Will Perlis , May 23, 2002; 11:32 a.m.

"At no point did Mr. Ho say that he was going to shoot a 17 year old in the nude."

Right. And at no point did anyone say he was going to. It sure would be nice if people read what was written before slamming their indignators* into high gear. We're talking hypotheticals here, and about the possible ramifications of an as yet ill-defined situation.

*Yeah, I know that probably isn't in the dictionary. Deal with it.

peter nelson , May 23, 2002; 11:37 a.m.

to let a verbal slip of sacralage that may offend someone is one thing, but to type it and leave it is a little disrespectful.

I agree with Mark's point, and I see nothing wrong with the way he expressed it. The expression "Jesus Christ" used to express exasperation is a standard part of the English lexicon, used by 90+% of the population and has no religious significance when used that way. Christians and non-Christians alike use it - my (mainly Lutheran) family frequently uses it, as does my (Jewish) wife, when they want to express exasperation or emphasize a point.

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