07/10/11 03:00 Model AdviceModel Advice
This is a question you see all over the web. Who has
the superior right to the publication of images after
a shoot, the photographer or the model? Can a model,
dissatisfied with the results of a photo session,
legally bar the photographer from publishing the
images? This answer comes down to the model's right
to privacy vs. the photographer's copyright. Let's
start with the easy scenario: if the photographer
has obtained written consent
(e.g., a model
release) from the model for the exploitation of her
images, he has the unqualified right to publish them.
Remember, he already owns the copyright to the
photos. Combine that with a model release and it darn
near equals absolute power with respect to
But that's not usually what happens. In the real
world, test shoots occur all the time without a model
release being signed. And relationships that started
off great in the planning stage can turn sour after
the shoot and models will ask, or even demand, that
the photographer refrain from posting their images.
But does the model have this right, legally?
In New York and states with privacy statutes
similar to New York
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Wisconsin*) the answer
is "yes," the model can legally prevent publication.
If the model hasn't signed a written release, it
doesn't matter whether her conduct indicates consent
to publication or she orally agreed thereto - the
photographer has no right to post those images.
But in California and Florida, consent to publication
may be written or
oral and may also be
implied via conduct (e.g., emails back and forth
about the shoot, showing up and sitting for hair and
make up, etc.), so the photographer can post the
images despite the model's insistence to the
contrary. Mind you, we're talking about consent to
merely have the photos published. Showing up at a
shoot does not imply consent to have your image used
to promote a product without getting paid, whether
you're in California or not.
model fight after a shoot and model demands that
photographer "lose her photos" and never publish them
anywhere. No release has been signed, but conduct and
conversations show the model intended to shoot with
the photographer and knew he would publish the
images. In New York, the model will win this fight,
but not in California or Florida.
*Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-40; Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch.
214, § 3A; R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-28; N.Y. Civ. Rights
Law §§ 50 to 51; Wis. Stat. Ann. § 895.50.
Source Material for