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Releasing printing permission

Frank Penn , Mar 21, 2008; 01:56 p.m.


I plan to give all the original images to a client and let her print on her own. But I do need to own the copyright so the client can't alter the images or use it commercially. Basically, all the client can do is private printing.

Can anyone help me with a sample release form like this?

Thanks a lot!


Mikael Karlsson , Mar 21, 2008; 05:48 p.m.

I Frank Penn, photographer, hereby grant (model's name) permission to print these images (list images) for personal print use only. No electronic rights are granted. All other rights including copyright remain with the photographer.

Have the model sign and date and it never hurts to have it witnessed (and signed) as well.

Disclaimer: I'm no attorney and this shouldn't be considered legal advise.

Sometimes I think we - I'm certainly guilty of it myself - make things absurdly more complicated than they really have to be. Do you think the model might do something you do not want him/her to do with the pics? In that case why not simply offer to print the prints he/she wants and hand over the prints? Then there are no digital high res files floating about and less risk they'll go astray. Charge at or slightly above cost, or absurdly above cost, for the prints if you want to.

Karen Lippowiths , Mar 21, 2008; 07:48 p.m.

I think the reality is to know and acknowledge that clients will print (and manipulate) files when possible. I price my proofs at the "absurdly expensive" price point and ONLY make them available after the client has purchased $X,XXX as part of my highest or second- highest collection. Once I make my sale (a magic number that I consider myself adequately compensated), then I try to let it go. That way, I cringe LESS when I see a CVS print of my work in their home or get a Costco holiday card that has been "auto corrected" (despite my little letter to the client explaining not to do this).

I even had a client later slip and mention she had essentially scanned a print and included it in an iBook. It's just a reality. Try to get the money then try to let it go. The contract is just something we (including me) all use to make ourselves feel in control of a situation over which we have little control.

In terms of wording, Mikael is right: less is more. :)


Alan Myers , Mar 22, 2008; 04:49 p.m.

Personally I think the biggest problem with doing this is the quality of the prints, as Karen noted. Licensing for limited use is the easy part (catching them violating the license isn't easy, though).

Imagine how your images will look printed with their $99 4-color Lexmark. You might be better off if they use CVS or a Walmart kiosk!

Whoever they show the photos might ask who took them, and judge your photo skills according to the print they see.

It's thin ice and there really is no easy answer.

Jerry Litynski , Mar 22, 2008; 07:26 p.m.

From Business Law I, many years ago: one has to exchange something of value (a $1.00 bill) for a contract to be valid. Giving a series of images with the hope the person getting the images will even care about how the prints look will be a wonderful thing to know in advance, but like a motorcycle ride with no helmet, you need luck.

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