Model release forms are an important document that photographers, filmmakers, editors, and other creatives should understand before using photographs or footage of people with their images in their work. Whether you are based in Los Angeles or elsewhere, ensuring your models have signed a model release form is key to avoiding potential legal pitfalls down the line. While model release forms can be tedious to understand and even more complicated to put into practice, there are certain key steps to take to ensure your intellectual property is legally protected and that you are in compliance with local, state, and federal laws. Here, we explore the top five things to consider when issuing model releases to protect your creative work.

1. Understand and Explain Model Release Rights

Model release forms are legally binding documents in which a person who has been digitally photographed or filmed provides written consent to allow their image to be used and distributed in a way agreed upon by the photographer. These contractual agreements are put into place to help protect photographers and other filmmakers from infringement of their work or from invasion of privacy claims. Before issuing a model release, it is important to understand the rights it affords and explain them to your models in language they can understand. For example, if you plan to use the image on multiple platforms, it is recommended that your model signs a release that includes provisions allowing for such usage.

2. Know Local Regulations in Los Angeles

When it comes to laws surrounding model releases, it is imperative to make sure you are taking into consideration the local regulations. Laws and regulations surrounding rights to a person’s image can vary from state to state, and it is your responsibility to make sure you are working within the confines of these regulations. As a photographer, filmmaker, or other creative in Los Angeles, make sure you familiarize yourself with the laws that govern the use of publicity rights.

3. Consult with Experienced Business Lawyers

Consulting with experienced business lawyers can help give you and your models clarity and peace of mind during the contract negotiation process. Making sure the document is properly drafted, understood, and agreed upon is an important step in ensuring that you protect yourself and your model in the long run. Experienced business attorneys can provide legal counsel on the specific rights afforded through the contract, that may or may not be applicable to your particular venture.

4. Ensure Correct Signatures, Dates, and Details Are Included

It is important to include signatures as well as dates, times, and details of the images being used in any model release forms you are issuing. These details should include the type of images, what frame the model was photographed in, and any post-production changes made after the shoot. Making sure this information is included and up to date will ensure your work is legally protected.

5. Keep Track of Forms and Maintain Records

Last, but certainly not least, it is important to keep track of and maintain records of all the model release forms you issue. As the photographer, editor, or filmmaker, you are responsible for ensuring your models have signed the form, and you will want to keep the form up to date should you decide to use the images in a different way or show them in a new medium.

Model release forms are an important document for photographers, filmmakers, and other creatives to be cognizant of when working with any individuals that may appear in their work. From consulting with experienced business attorneys to understanding the laws of the state and locality you are working in, these steps will help to ensure you have a legally compliant document that is properly documented. With these five things in mind, you can feel confident that all parties involved in the arrangement are duly protected, and that your creative work is safeguarded for years to come.


Model Releases,

Business Lawyer,

Los Angeles