Top 5 signs that your model release might be a ticking time bomb…

  1. If you have moved to another state and left the release behind in a box in the garage.
  2. If your well-intentioned assistant got the release signed by the wrong person… the guy who didn´t appear in the photo.
  3. If you signed a model release for photos you took of your girlfriend… and then you dumped her.  Revenge is so sweet.
  4. When you flashed a release and a few coins in the face of a third world subject, who cheerfully signed a document that wasn´t in her language and that she can’t understand.  But her cousin in New York knows what´s the deal…
  5. If you told your agency that you have the release, but you don´t.

You might laugh, but all of these situations happened to real people, photographers at age fotostock.  And some of these photographers found themselves in very uncomfortable legal and financial situations, trying to explain how they could make such a mistake.

This issue is becoming more and more important nowadays for two reasons:

  1. Our world is increasingly global and interconnected, which means that everything becomes visible.  The old distinctions between editorial uses and commercial uses are not always a safe defence because displaying the image on internet to potential buyers allows it to be visible around the world, and in places where the rules of editorial usage are different.
  2. During tough times, everyone will try to pull a dollar out of any place they can find it.  Crisis makes people litigious. Those people might be your models…

Don´t get caught by a ticking time bomb of a release!

Read our legal basics here ( and pay close attention to the differences in editorial use between the United States and many European countries.