I am a small town photographer. I just recently set up my own website through smugmug. I want to post the photos that I took at my son's field day at school. I am not worried about selling them, I just know lots of parents would enjoy looking at them. I am concerned about the regulations / laws for posting photos of children / groups of children that I was not "hired" to take pictures of online. My son, or children I know are the main subjects of most, but lots are just random shots of kids having fun. Can anyone give me some input on this? We take pictures in public with random people in the background and post them on line all the time. I also post action shots that I take at ball games. Is there a difference? I appreciate your time and advice. Thanks, Jenny
If you don't have permission from the other parents, i.e. through model releases, posting them might potentially land you in hot water. It only takes one pissed off parent to file a lawsuit. There are other senior members on the forum with more knowledge on this topic than me and hopefully they will respond to your thread. But, if I'm not mistaken, only pics used for documentary and news stories are exempt from the model release requirement. So my best advice would be to at least hold off on posting until more knowledgeable forum participants respond to your thread. Good luck though and I hope this helps at least a little.
If the children are in a public place, this includes outdoor fields, and you are not using the pictures as advertisements for you or a company you represent, then there is nothing wrong with posting the pictures online. Photos taking in indoor settings on private property then you would need a release from the property owner. The odds of a parent filing a lawsuit are minimal if you are just a parent showing off your children.
Since you are not exploiting the children the most likely thing that would happen is notice of removal.
Brennan the Vyper
I am a photographer, I don't deal with realism. I leave that for the poets!
Vyper is incorrect. It does not matter that the children were on public property when you photographed them. It does not matter that the photos are not being used for advertising purposes per se -- and actually they are being used to promote your photography, in a broad and legal sense, as they are on your website. You must get a signed release from a parent (unless a subject is 18+). In your situation, it's possible but unlikely that you'd get in legal trouble, but that, of course, does not change the law. More likely you will damage your reputation as you are bound to anger many parents if their children's photos are online without their permission. Even if the kids appear in background -- if they are recognizable you must have a release.
The only exception to all this is if the photos are used for editorial (news) purposes. For example, you can sell them to the local paper and you do not need a parent's permission.
That's one of the nice things about shooting wildlife and insects. The issue of release doesn't come into play. But if you want to make sure your practicing on firm ground, the best thing is to consult with a local attorney who is familiar with privacy and publication law.
I say this because I think between Vyper and Skipper, Vyper is more close to being correct than Skipper. Under Skipper's theory, anyone who has ever shot little league baseball would be spending half their day chasing down kids, who appear in the background, to get a release. If the photo is taken in a public setting and is used for non-commercial/editorial use then you should be alright in posting to your site without a release.
Things get tricky when you try to sell or use the photo in a commercial setting (e.g. in an advertisement). I have covered little league baseball for years and post the images on my website for parents to enjoy. I do sell some of the prints but only to the parents so a release is not necessary. If a local sporting goods store wanted to use my photo's in a sales ad, then I think a release would be in order.
If a parent ever objected to their child appearing on my website, I would pull it down without hesitation. I doubt they'd have any legal authority to make me take the photo down but it's the right thing to do.
Ask the parents what they think. I shoot social events at my wife's church and while the congregation likes the convenience of having the photos on my website, they requested the photos be password protected. So, I set up the church's gallery with a password and let the pastor distribute it accordingly.
Again, check with a local attorney on this or call your Attorney General's Office and see if they have any resources. Heck, the local paper's photo editor might be of help as well.
In the United States, people of any age who are in public may be photographed without any prior consent or permission,and those photographs may be displayed without need for a model release or other form of signed consent. In the USA, people lose their reasonable expectation of privacy when they are in public places,and the display of photos does not require verbal or written permission.
Here is a very famous case,and two references to it, the first one very short and easy to understand,and the second much more involved, yet still clearly understandable.
Thanks for the source. It may come in handy for those in New York State. It's an interesting read as is the Personality Rights link at the bottom of the wiki article.
Interesting book as well. I think the top of page 201 sums it up nicely in that "... there is no federal statute in the United States concerning rights of privacy and publicity." With such a statute or Supreme Court ruling, you're left with laws that can easily change from State to State as it pertains to photography, privacy and publicity.
Skipper, that's your opinion. Nothing more, nothing less.
And if you contend that "it's the law" please provide me with the Alabama Statute or Case law that you are referencing.
Last edited by coppertop; 05-10-2009 at 07:08 PM.
I think this matter probably is one that each photographer has to check with his/her "state laws" to really know what is binding and what is not, because it's definitely true that each state has the option of doing whatever the hell they want and if you live there you are pretty much bound by their rules !!! And it would be good to know for certain whether or not there are any federal laws regarding the matter. An example here in California with regard to a major difference between state and federal law has been very apparent with Medicinal Marijuana. California passed a law that allowed for the sale and use of medicinal marijuana with a doctor's prescription, however, because the federal law still states that all sales and use of marijuana is illegal, there have been numerous raids on legitimate clinics by federal agents. The feds claim their law trumps the state law. So, the moral to the story is check for both state and federal laws and if both exist, you're safest by following the federal law.