Re: Use of Photos in Documentation

Subject: Re: Use of Photos in Documentation
From: Stan Schwartz <stanz -at- cam -dot- org>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2002 08:40:57 -0500

Hi Barbara,

So, my question is: Are there legalities to using peoples' photos? Should I
place a black box over the eyes? Or is this not a concern?

Here's the short answer: Yes there are legalities. The issue is one of privacy. Placing a box over the eyes is hollywood. No, you should not.

Consult an attorney. I have one on a small retainer. Being sued is a significant emotional experience. (Especially if the postmark is Orlando, Atlanta, New York, or Chicago. IMHO)

You may not use a photograph or any likeness of any person, place, or thing without permission. The sole exception is for NEWS purposes and that is well-defined also. An advertising agency I worked for was sued for using the likness of a town on a bilboard. My lawyer won a case against Air Canada using an aerial photo of a beach in Cancun with a couple shown (There was question about identity being discerned from the photo and the client was not shown with his wife.) Hands used in ads must have a release. If the likness can be identified; boxes, blurry view, pixelated, and in negative colour included, you're in hot water.

The sought-for document is a model release. You need one for everone shown in every photo. They can be built-in to a contract or stand-alone. (Suddenly, the cost of professional photography isn't so expensive. Is it?) The same is true for anything in the photograph that can be identified. Of course, this might seem extreme. Have you been following the legal review? There, the extremes are called test cases and they are persued doggedly. That's the system.

An alternative would be to try a stock photo agency. There are many. The legalities are covered since no photo from an agency can be used without releases. They'll keep them on file.

Using your staff will be fun and provide some selling points too, or run an ad in the papers for models. Have the police officers join in. The more the merrier. In every case, you'll need a release. Have your models go to a passport photography shop and get a discount or maybe the ID unit of the police will want to help. In every case you'll need a release. In every case you'll need a release. In every case...

Also, the wording of the release is critical. The wording of some of the forms tends to frighten away some amateurs. It might be worthwhile to have one drawn up for the occasion.


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Use of Photos in Documentation: From: Barbara Yanez

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