Buying Images? What is a Model Release Explained for Designers & Marketing Team

Using images in your company’s websites and blogs? Learn why you should buy images which comes with a model release.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.

I have been using images in my own blogs and websites I have worked for. But never knew/cared about the legal implications of using images taken by some photographer. I remember that sometimes the images I took (replace with the word stole) from Flickr actually had a copyright symbol!

Now I am learning the basics of copyright, and what is an Intellectual Property! Oh boy! All those movies I downloaded from the internet :)

Then one fine day, one of my friends who is an upcoming blogger covering the Startups in India, received a notice from Getty Images that he should either delete or license the image used in one of his blog posts. After learning about that, I keep extreme caution when using images in my projects. If I have to give a credit line to the photographer, I will give it. I started paying for the images I downloaded. And when using images from Flickr, I started to use their Advanced Search where I can filter by “Creative Commons licensed” and “for non commercial use”.

That’s all I knew. And one fine day I started working for Alamy which sells stock photos!

Just now I learnt that if a person is present in the image you used in your company website, that person can sue you in court. Here is an article about a woman suing Match.com for using her photos in ads. To make sure it doesn't happen to you, there is something called model and property releases.

Wikipedia says “A model release, known in similar contexts as a liability waiver, is a legal release typically signed by the subject of a photograph granting permission to publish the photograph in one form or another.”

So what if the subject is an animal, or a building or a smartphone? Confusing! Remember the Monkey — Wikipedia Selfie row.

This infographic from Alamy about model and property releases when using stock images explains it in the most simplest way. You can learn what is a model release, if you need to obtain it for using the image, what if the model in the image is dead!

Here are some more tips that are useful when buying stock photos online.

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