Stock photo sales and realease questions
This is a discussion on Stock photo sales and realease questions within the Making Money From Photography forums, part of the PHOTO FORUM category; I am thinking of getting myself approved by an online non royalty website like iStockphoto - or something similar - as a way to sell ...
Stock photo sales and realease questions
I am thinking of getting myself approved by an online non royalty website like iStockphoto - or something similar - as a way to sell my photos. I am an amateur and have no illusions that I will make lots of money selling anything....especially at what those sites pay per download......but being able to generate enough money to get the family dinner out every month is a great starting point. My question centers on release forms. When are they needed? And for what? I know if I photograph my neighbor I need a release form to use his image but what about other subjects like:
public beaches over the weekend where there are hundreds of people - some can be identified and others not
industrial, office, farm and other architecturally interesting buildings that may or may not be vacant and that are likely not government owned
cars, truck, motorcycles
people in public parks
typical stock photo stuff
I read where if I took a photo of 2 people shaking hands - the photo would only be their 2 hands clasped together and nothing else - I would need to get both of them to sign release forms...is that correct? If that is correct then if I took a photo of a Nissan Sentra in a Simon Mall owned shopping mall parking lot I would need releases from Nissan, the car owner and a Simon Mall exec? Wow....that would be tough to get. How do the folks that take photos of football games for Sports Illustrated do it?
I am confused on what is acceptable without release forms......any information you folks could provide would be great.
Finally, I would like to someday make real money at photography and see these stock photo sites as a way to get my "foot in the door" as I perfect my craft.....which will likely take years. Am I wrong? Is there a better way that I am missing? I know the arena of photography is super competitive.
TIA for all you input.
10-01-2011 11:38 AM
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I'll start out by saying: I am not a lawyer and my advice may not be correct.
Here's what I've come to understand (and there are a number of guides on this topic on the Internet.)
In a broad and generalized way, you have the right to photograph just about anything you want for "non commercial" use, and there are some exceptions (You cannot photograph top-secret government sites that ban photography. You cannot photograph the security screening area at an airport. etc.)
For everything else, if you're not engaging in commercial use, you have the right to photograph, keep it in your private collection, frame it and hang it on your wall. Give away a copy to friends. Post it on your Facebook page, etc. You do not need anyone's permission.
If the work will be involved in "commercial use" (you plan to sell it, etc.) then you MIGHT need a release.
Here's where you might need a lawyer to help out with interpretation:
If there are no people in the photo then you do not need a release. There are a *few* exceptions to this... it turns out there are objects (not people) where the very thing is copyrighted and a photograph of it cannot be sold because it infringes on someone else's copyright. I personally think this is probably taking copyrights to an extreme but then I don't get to make the laws and my opinion doesn't count for much.
If there are people in the shot then you STILL might not need a release. If the people are not personally identifiable then you do not need a release. If the people in the photo are clearly not the subject (they just somehow managed to make their way into the background but the shot is clearly not of those people... for example you photograph a famous monument and there happen to be some people in the shot who are also looking at it. You do not need a release.
I used to believe you needed a release if the people in the photo were personally identifiable -- always -- but discovered that even then there are exceptions. For example, if you take a photo of a famous person and it's possible to identify them in the picture then you DO need a release regardless. But if you take a photo of someone who is easily recognizable but NOT a famous person and what makes the shot interesting is not "who they are" but rather "what they are doing" then it turns out... you don't actually need a release.
That, basically, is my understanding of the law based on all the stuff I've been able to read.
HOWEVER.. I do know a few good lawyers and their advice is this: The other party might give you a hard time anyway. They could file a lawsuit (even if you've violated no laws and they can't win) and you'd still end up paying for representation in court to defend yourself and that would cost you money. So the safe play is... ask them for a release anyway.
The release form (there are several boilerplate releases that you can download from the Internet -- Stockphoto probably even has some worded to make sure they are protected) usually starts out with the phrase "in consideration given" (because in order for a contract to be valid there has to be some consideration and terms for both parties... a one-way contract is on shaky ground.) They idea is you offer to give them a free copy of the photo -- which legally turns out to be your form of consideration (payment). In other words you've bartered a deal with them... they let you take the photo and you let them have a copy of it.
A stockphoto site may have additional rules (regardless of the law) and these are generally established because they want to make sure that THEY are protected and indemnified (You guarantee to them that you've followed the rules and laws and if for any reason you have not then YOU will foot the legal bill and not them.)
Laws may vary from place to place.
If I were going to be serious about doing this, I'd probably talk to an attorney who specializes in this particular part of the law.
I've a good experience with iStock and I've sold my different projects at iStock but sometimes If I need some pics for my project then I buy from them. Last week I bought a photo from them but at discount price because I used iStock photo promo code which I would like to share with you.
10% Off on All Order
Expires: Jul 01, 2012
Source: iStockPhoto Promo Codes 2012, Find iStockPhoto.com Coupons at CouponRefund.com
This is quite interesting. I wonder if the news media needs signed releases on all the famous people they photograph. And how would they obtain those releases? Their photos are for immediate publication. Is there an understanding that news photographers don't need a signed release?
Originally Posted by TCampbell
It seems to me that the laws need to be revisited. If I sell a photo of a person, I would need to obtain a signed release. If I post it on Facebook for thousands to see, I don't need a release. It hardly seems fair to get sued just because somebody is in a photo that was sold. I can understand a lawsuit if the person is made to look foolish or is in a compromising situation.
Hey John, to my understanding, if you take pictures of a famous person, you need not get any releases from them as it's felled under Editorial section.
Not only you can upload photos to istock, you can also upload your pictures to sites such as 123RF.com, Dreamstimes, Fotolia, Shutterstock to increase your earnings.
Dan Heller Photography has some excellent material on the need for model releases. There is the matter of privacy and publicity rights of the people being photographed. It seems that for most photos a model release would not be needed but there are circumstances where it would.
Originally Posted by Angelina
One point, "commercial use" in the law, means for advertising purposes. You can sell a photo of a person taken in public without a release. A case in New York of a shot of a rabbi, I believe was sold for a high price at a gallery. The rabbi sued and lost. Since it was not used for advertising purposes, it was judged as NOT being commercial use.
In Canada and the US you do not need a release to publish a photo of a famous person that you photographed unless it is used for advertising purposes. It is usually covered under "editorial use" and permitted by law. The most famous historical example was nude shots of the former Jackie Kennedy that were taken while the photographer was trespassing. They were published in magazines that were available throughout Europe and North America. By the way, the photographer retains his rights to a photo even if it was taken while trespassing.
Originally Posted by TCampbell
There is a push to change this aspect of law to provide greater privacy for famous people, when they are not present in an "official" function, but the results have been "mixed", as in the right to self-expression through photography is still basic in most democracies.
Last edited by Cameron; 05-27-2012 at 08:55 PM.
I would really not recommend stock photo sales. Your photos need to be better than the average shots submitted to be financially successful, and if they are, then you do not need stock photo agencies.
By Livik in forum Making Money From Photography
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