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Talent release required for class photos in a TV PSA

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Kevin HanleyTalent release required for class photos in a TV PSA
by on Dec 8, 2006 at 11:00:46 pm

We are producing a TV PSA for our State Department of Education. They may want to use some school class photos. Obviously, we cannot obtain talent release for all of the students in the class photos, which were taken as long as 10 years ago. Talent releases wouldn't be required to use these photos, would they?


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David Roth WeissRe: Talent release required for class photos in a TV PSA
by on Dec 9, 2006 at 1:55:21 am

Kevin,

If the people are recognizable you should have releases. You might get away with it, but then you might not, and its simply good kharma to have releases whenever putting real people's faces on TV.

DRW


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Mark SuszkoRe: Talent release required for class photos in a TV PSA
by on Dec 9, 2006 at 7:49:43 am

You are not safe to use these. Some schools have special permission slips signed at the beginning of the year or brfore public events, where the parents sign off permission to use the kid's image for limited promotional purposes regarding the school... stuff like puting them inthe monthly printed newsletter, etc.

Nothing the kids sign is worth anything in court. It has to be signed off by the legal guardian.


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Nick GriffinRe: Talent release required for class photos in a TV PSA
by on Dec 9, 2006 at 6:39:42 pm

David and Mark are correct but the real issue for old photos where tracking down the subjects is a near impossibility comes down to luck, or Karma as David puts it. Will you be lucky enough that the spots will air for a period of time without someone coming out of the woodwork complaining about not having given permission for this use.

The bottom line is that, assuming you didn't defame anyone in your spot, if someone complains you'll simply have to pull the spot or edit out the complainer. I'm not an attorney (yada, yada, yada) but I believe that's all someone could demand and they'd never get damages out of this. The party who stands to be hurt the most is your client who either loses the spot or has to foot the bill for the re-edit. TELL THEM ABOUT THIS POTENTIAL PROBLEM UP FRONT. And TELL THEM IN WRITING.

Getting back to luck, my guess is the chances of generating a complaint are small and this might be a risk worth taking. (But I'm not an attorney, yada, yada.)

Perhaps one creative solution would be to get a male and female headshot released and then retouch those onto everyone in the group pic. Could be kind of humorous.


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David Roth WeissRe: Talent release required for class photos in a TV PSA
by on Dec 9, 2006 at 8:09:45 pm

Nick,

I think the problem with using the photos and hoping to get away with it, is that once that line has been crossed your integrity can be brought into question. Is it worth it? You cannot unring a bell, and once you've lost integrity, it becomes very difficult to recover.

There are a million ways to rationalize these types decisions, but if the only deterents we consider are whether or not we'll get caught, or whether the punishment is great enough to cause concern, I think we're really missing the point.

DRW


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Kerry BrownRe: Talent release required for class photos in a TV PSA
by on Dec 9, 2006 at 9:02:55 pm

Then there is the issue of copyrights. Copyrights may belong to the photographer.

KB


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Kevin HanleyRe: Talent release required for class photos in a TV PSA
by on Dec 9, 2006 at 9:04:16 pm

One thing to remember is that the PSA is for the state department of education in the state where the class photos were taken. My guess is that whatever covers the schools to publish the photos (in yearbooks and newsletters, etc) would filter up to the state level for the same purpose. However, I lean toward the advice of being cautious if you can make out the faces of the other kids. Thanks for the input!


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Nick GriffinRe: Talent release required for class photos in a TV PSA
by on Dec 10, 2006 at 2:42:59 pm

David -

I would agree if this were a spot for a commercial entity. I would also agree if there was some storyline being put forth which would reflect poorly on those whose images are used. BUT... this is a PSA for a school system, right?? Maybe it's just me, but I don't consider this situation all that seriously. Certainly not serious enough to bring anyone's "integrity" into question.

(And yes, on my own shoots I routinely get releases signed and always try not to take any chances.)


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David Roth WeissRe: Talent release required for class photos in a TV PSA
by on Dec 10, 2006 at 8:12:27 pm

Nick,

I don't want to make a big deal about it, but, no matter how we choose to rationalize it, one of the most basic human rights is ownership and control of our own image or likeness. So, I think its extremely important for those of us who profit in any way by using the images of others to respect those rights without exception, lest our integrity be called into question.

DRW


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Bob ColeRe: Talent release required for class photos in a TV PSA
by on Dec 12, 2006 at 5:03:04 am

I'd err on the side of caution, especially given that these are children. On the other hand, I have used photos of children taken decades ago, in an historical documentary, because the images told a serious story of poverty and survival. I somehow feel there is a difference, because my use of the pictures had more relevance to the Truth of these kids' lives than a PSA. But maybe if I saw the script of your PSA, I'd feel that the same way about your use.

If you can persuade the powers that be that using actual photos is a bad idea, this could be a great opportunity to do some casting, art direction and clever costuming -- make some 2007 kids look like 1980s kids, shoot it in full color, freeze frame and sepia tone it.

Or just find some smaller-town high school class reunion organizer -- he/she might be able to get releases from almost every single person in a class photo, and if any aren't available you could just photoshop in somebody who will sign. Lots of work either way.

-- Bob C


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JBaumchenRe: Talent release required for class photos in a TV PSA
by on Dec 12, 2006 at 3:29:25 pm

Here's an interesting twist. When the photographer shot the photos, was he doing so on a work for hire basis or does he own the copyright to the photos?

Also, since the photos used in the yearbook were part of a profitable enterprise, was the photoghrapher required to obtain model releases from everyone appearing in the yearbook?


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