Do you need model releases?

If you feature people in your photos, illustrations, and art, then you'll need model releases signed to sell them commercially.

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Written by Support
Updated over a week ago

Model Releases for commercial use

You must obtain a model release from your models before submitting your work for commercial purposes - whether the models are professionals, friends, family members, or strangers on the street.

I don't have a model release, how can I get one?
There are plenty of free templates on the internet, you can download our model release in .pdf format and use as a template, or you can use the Easy Model Release mobile app

What is commercial use?
Commercial use means that the image can be used as a part of the marketing and advertising of a product, service, or information that can result in monetary gain. For legal reason, companies want the ability to use images to promote their company without fear of a lawsuit for using an image that they don't have the rights to use. 

Examples of how images are used commercially
In stock media, the images can be photos, illustrations, or videos. Companies can use these images for ads, commercials, billboards, brochures, magazine ads, blogs, websites, email ads, social media ads, banners, and many other uses. They can use them "as is" or alter them to fit their purposes.

What information needed to be included in a model release?

At a minimum, a model release must contain the following:

  • Language releasing all rights to the media and granting full and unrestricted rights to the contributor to use the media in perpetuity (forever) without any further renumeration to the model.

  • Contributor's full legal name

  • Must be signed by Contributor

  • Date signed

  • Model's full legal name

  • Must be signed by model

  • Must be signed by parent or guardian if model is under 18

  • Date signed

  • A photo of the model

  • Note: Our model release template includes Race and Ethnicity of the models. Download our model release to use as a template

Pro tips

  • Keep digital copies of your releases and organize with easily recognizable names that indicate the photoshoot, year, location, etc.

  • All releasees must be signed and dated by you, the model, the parent/guardian of anyone under the age of 18, and a witness.

  • Attach a thumbnail photograph of the model on each release for reference

  • If your photoshoot has multiple models, each model must sign a release

  • Obtain a signed release for every day of the shoot, even if you're working with the same model.

  • Ensure you have all releases signed before you begin shooting. It is always more challenging to obtain releases after the shoot.

  • A parent or guardian must sign the release if the model is under the age of 18

  • Make sure your releases include the term "in perpetuity" (for all time).

  • If the model is deceased you still need a signed release from their heirs if an image is going to be used commercially. The general guideline is 70 years after their death.

Do I need Model Releases for Editorial use?

Editorial images generally illustrate a news story, book, or article to capture the spirit of a real life event - eg. currently the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 election, etc.

Editorial content doesn't usually require model releases, because the images are not being used for any of the commercial reasons above. Their purpose is usually to accompany a news story about a current event or location.

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