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wedding model release

Jonathan Owen , Sep 24, 2009; 01:20 p.m.

Hi all - new to the forum so look forward to making new contacts.

Has anyone ever had an issue with model release relating to wedding guests. I would normally expect wedding guests to be happy for their images to be used following a wedding - one assumes that if they are a guest they are friendly with the bride and groom and want to comply with their wishes. However, I recently met a a mad old boot who is making a stink following a recent wedding job. It seems he has fallen out with the wedding couple and wants to eb tricky.
Do the normal model release rules apply for weddings or is the legal standing different?
Many thanks for your help
JO

Responses

Craig Shearman , Sep 24, 2009; 01:28 p.m.

I'm not a lawyer but I've never heard of model releases from a wedding unless it's to use a picture in your advertising, and then it's something that can be built into the contract. I think the legal distinction (not being a lawyer) is that putting wedding pictures into an album and giving them to the bride and groom does not constitute "publishing" the photos. But again I am not a lawyer.

Neil Ambrose , Sep 24, 2009; 01:47 p.m.

There's a widespread misconception that you need a model release in order to show images on your website. You don't.

You do need a model release if you are transferring all image rights to a third-party; or if you are using the image directly or indirectly in a commercial context other than the one in which the image was taken. You don't need a model release if you are displaying the image in an editorial context where the depiction is documentary and based on the true circumstance behind the image.

Just because you're a wedding photographer does not automatically make the image commercial use. Your employment is incidental to the use of the image as you are not changing the context in which it is shown. In effect you're saying: 'this is an image of person X at person Y's wedding and I took it'. It's no different from a newspaper displaying images of someone without a release (newspapers are also commercial enties).

Similarly, you can sell images of someone else without a release providing they are sold as art and not re-purposed. Think about images of people taken in public places that are displayed in galleries. (See also the background and precedent following the court case against street photographer Philip Lorca di Corcia which he won in the NY trial court).

There are plenty of articles on the web about model releases that can make useful reading.

Pete Harlan , Sep 24, 2009; 03:41 p.m.

There's a widespread misconception that you need a model release in order to show images on your website. You don't.

Gee; I had a similar debate here not too long ago, where a few swore up and down that a release was necessary irrelevent of use.
Nice to see someone else has read the laws concerning releases.

Jonathan, short story that happened to a good friend of mine. (A wedding shooter)

His contracts with the B&G allow him to use the photos for ANY application. Ya; a release can often be worded so nebulous to allow any "use." usually the pics are for nothing more than self promotion for most.

One of the guests was a political power in town. He was irate when he found out he was visible in the background of a B&G photo. In the photo, it was quite clear the politician was being less than gentlemanly toward another guest.
He tried to sue claiming the photog had no right to publish images of him.

Obviously he lost such a silly claim. It didn't get much traction; although he did have his day in court which cost him plenty in attorneys fees. The photog then counter sued and prevailed showing that the incident had damaged his business because of the notoriety of the politician.

There is a expectation of privacy in some situations; a wedding venue is not one of them when a photog is present.
This all goes to a question of "association." Since the politician was not being "associated" with anything, there is no case. Further, there was no "intent" to photograph the politician.
Just goes to show you how many people misunderstand releases, including in this case, The City Attorney!

John H. , Sep 24, 2009; 06:26 p.m.

His contracts with the B&G allow him to use the photos for ANY application.

This part is not relevent to the story as one cannot sign away the privacy rights of another. The outcome of a case like this will not turn on a release signed by other people. It turns on whether one signed by the person shown is needed or not. According to this particular story, its not.

Pete Harlan , Sep 24, 2009; 06:48 p.m.

This part is not relevent to the story as one cannot sign away the privacy rights of another.

If you drew that inference than I blame myself for not communicating it more clearly.
Of course no one can sign away privacy rights for another.
Had the photo been used with the caption "City Attorney is a drunk"..Now there would be a problem unless the guy signed a rather broad release, which doesn't happen nor does it apply at weddings.

Looking back on the OP question, it appears someone either in the wedding party or a guest is trying to prevent some photos from being displayed, which is not possible as long as the photos do not associate that person with anything.

Perhaps I am not understanding what the OP is after?

John H. , Sep 24, 2009; 10:14 p.m.

That makes more sense except that one's likeness can be displayed without permission even if the person associated with something. It has to be an certain kinds of associations in order for there to be a cause of action on part of the person depicted. Basically, one of the four invasion of privacy situations.

David Haas , Sep 24, 2009; 10:14 p.m.

Jonathan -

To answer your legal question - in regards to posting a photo on your website or to promote your business in the context of "this is a photo I took at a wedding - see? I can take photos at your wedding too" Then No - You do not need a release from each guest - Legally.

Now - the business sense of having a photo on your advertising or website that the "mad old boot" doesn't want on there any longer is a different issue completely. You need to look at it from the perspective of how much negative publicity / bad word of mouth is she going to give you and your business if you don't remove her from the photo or remove the photo from your site. The answer to that question may be far more important than your legal standing in this case.

By the way - I believe that most people - including myself - answered this from an American / US Legal point of view. Due to the wording of your post - I strongly suspect you're on the other side of the pond.

Finally - I know personally - I wouldn't be happy if I were to do a google search of the name of the photographer that I'm mad at and found myself or my spouse referred to as a "mad old boot". Google is our friend but it can be our worst enemy.

Dave

Patricia Kay Spinks , Feb 03, 2010; 07:43 p.m.

I see a lot of responses about weddings, however I am wondering about fundraising events. I'm a photographer for a local organization and photograph their fashion show and golf fundraising events. Is it a good idea to place a stipulation on the registration form that anyone attending agrees to the possibility of having their photo taken? Macworld does this at their conferences.

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