When engaging in photo and video shoots, it’s important to understand common legalities around model releases. In general, a model release form is a legally binding contract between the photographer who will use the images and the subject of those images, including both adults and minors. It allows the licensed photographer to use the photographs or videos for certain purposes, and for a certain period of time, as outlined in the agreement. Though the use of a model release form is standard practice, most states, including the Midwest state of Illinois, have specific requirements related to these contracts. It’s important to be aware of these guidelines and to discuss any specific model release needs with an experienced business attorney.

The Purpose and Restrictions of Model Release Forms

Model release forms are intended to provide photography and videography professionals with permission to use the subject’s likeness for commercial purposes. This commonly includes the use of the subject’s likeness in magazines, advertisements, websites, film, digital promotion, and any other commercial projects. Without a release form, photographers could be required to pay fees for the right to use the images or videos they’ve recorded.

Though the use of a model release form is commonplace in the photography and video industry, the contract sets specific parameters in which the images can be used. This includes how and when they can be used and only allowing use for the specific purpose outlined in the contract.

Legal Requirements for Model Release Forms

Each U.S. state has its own laws regarding the formation of contracts, including those related to model release forms. In general, the contract is valid when both parties sign it, so the subject of the photo shoot must be physically present or provide a signature for the model release to be legally binding.

In the Midwest state of Illinois, the Model Release Act recognizes model release forms as “a contract between parties, setting forth the rights and obligations of the parties.” Like any other contract, this means the model release must adhere to the law of contracts, as defined in the Illinois Statute, 810 ILCS 5, which states that parties entering into an agreement must be mentally fit and be over the age of 18 or signed off by a guardian if under the age of 18. Additionally, all contracts should be written out in clear legible language and include all necessary details.

Form Requirements for Model Release Forms

When creating and signing model release forms, it’s important to include the agreement’s key elements. Contracts with minors require the signature of a parent or a guardian who is assigned the legal authority to make decisions on the minor’s behalf. In the contract, the parent or guardian must provide written permission for the minor to appear and be photographed or videotaped.

The agreement should also clearly state the purpose of the photos or videos and include release of claims by the subject/parent/guardian for any future infringement actions by the photographer/company. In addition, the photographer/company must include their name, the purpose of the published material, the terms of agreement, and the period during which the material is available for use and published.

It should be noted that contractual requirements may change for non-commercial projects. In this instance, a short statement may include release of any claims based on the use of the subject’s name or image.

How to Hire a Business Attorney for Model Release Forms

Model release forms are commonplace in the photography and videography industry. However, it’s important to understand the laws and regulations regarding model release forms in your own state, such as the Illinois Model Release Act.

When engaging with a high profile clients or minors, or when navigating the legal requirements for a film or television production, business attorneys are a great resource. Experienced business attorneys provide a reliable counsel for companies and businesses, and can help guide creative professionals through the legal process of using model release forms.

Fortunately, connecting with experienced lawyers doesn’t have to consume hours of time and resources. For fast and affordable access to experienced business attorneys, consider utilizing UpCounsel's legal service. UpCounsel is an online legal service that has an extensive network of experienced business attorneys. Their attorneys have an average of 14 years of experience, and their online profiles include client ratings and reviews of recent work.

Choose the best course for engage with experienced business attorneys like UpCounsel for clear guidance and support. Model release contracts are a legal necessity for ensuring commercial use is not subject to fees and litigation.


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