Resources for Graduation Event Professionals

When model releases are required for commencement PR images

model-releaseIf you are a GradImages client, we are pleased to provide complimentary copies of all public relations (PR) images taken at your commencements.  Click here to read more and view sample PR images. While these images are useful for a variety of applications, it is important to understand that a signed model release may be needed from the people in the image before it may be used in certain circumstances.

An oversimplified definition of a model release

A model release is a signed waiver by the subject(s) in an image permitting the use of that image in various forms. There is no shortage of legal opinion on this topic, some of which is conflicting. In general, however, model releases are needed whenever someone can be identified within an image, and that image is to be used for commercial, advertising, or marketing purposes.

Model releases are not acquired when taking PR images at commencement.

When taking PR images, photographers must quickly capture moments that catch their eyes, and then move on to the next opportunity. This cannot be done effectively if the photographer must break stride after each picture to ask the subject(s) to sign a model release. As such, client schools are advised that the PR images they receive from GradImages will not have accompanying model releases.

A school’s use of PR images from commencement

There are many factors that schools must consider when using the PR images taken at commencement, including:

  • Whether the image was taken in a public location where there was no expectation of privacy;
  • Whether the image will be used for editorial purposes, such as a news article or educational piece, or for advertising or marketing purposes; and
  • The degree to which the subjects are uniquely identifiable within the image.

For example, assume we are taking about a PR image taken at commencement where a graduate can be clearly identified. For the school to use that image in an advertising brochure might necessitate a signed model release from that graduate. However, the use of that image in a press release about commencement or in the school’s newspaper would likely not require a model release since it is being used for editorial purposes.

If you intend to use commencement PR photos from GradImages for projects of a commercial, advertising, or marketing nature, but are uncertain whether a model release is needed from the individuals in an image, please be sure to seek appropriate guidance first.

Topics: Terminology GradImages Commencement Photography Legal