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A Digital Photographer's Guide to Model Releases: Making the Best Business Decisions with Your Photos of People, Places and Things by Dan Heller

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Chapter 5. Dissecting a Model Release

A model release is technically a contract, no different than many that you see and agree to on a regular basis. A rental agreement, the warranty card that comes with your camera, the license agreement that you never read when you install software, even the credit card receipt you sign when you pay for a meal at a restaurant — they're all contracts of one form or another. You're even agreeing to contracts when you're not aware of it, such as posting a comment to a blog or discussion group, uploading a photo to a photo-sharing site, putting something up for sale on eBay, or posting information about yourself on a dating service. Each of these sites has a contract that you explicitly or implicitly agree to the moment you engage in its services. You are almost always offered the option to review the agreement, but few people ever do. In fact, people seem to be increasingly more oblivious to their very existence even when the fine print is not hidden from them.

So, you agree to them, but do you understand them? Are you aware of the caveats of these agreements in the fine print? Perhaps not, but your risk is somewhat lower, because these are mostly benign uses. However, as a photographer, some of your income may depend on your knowing what kind of model release you should have your photo subjects sign, lest you find out later you gave away your house. So, how do you evaluate contracts that use words like "herewith" and "indemnifies" and "irrevocable," ...

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