General Release Stands Test of Time and Money
In the recent case of Marder v. Lopez, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the validity of a general release relating to the movie "Flashdance." The movie purportedly was based on Maureen Marder's life. Marder sued Jennifer Lopez, Sony Music and Paramount Pictures for using "well-known scenes from Flashdance" in one of Lopez's music videos. Marder made claims of copyright infringement and for violating her rights of publicity, among other things.
Marder had signed a general release in 1982 giving Paramount the right to use her life story. The Court found that, "though in hindsight the agreement appears to be unfair to Marder -- she only received $2300 in exchange for release of all claims relating to a movie that grossed over $150 million -- there is simply no evidence that her consent was obtained by fraud, deception, misrepresentation, duress, or undue influence."
A general model release is a good thing to get from the people you photograph, even when you don't expect that you'll need it later.
Take my advice; get professional help.
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