Photo Attorney

Jan 2, 2009

Q&A - Who Signs the Model Release?

Q. I took photos of people who were minors at the time of the shoot. They are now adults. I want to use the photos for stock. Who do I now ask to sign the model release - the parents or the models?

A. Because minors can later disaffirm (void) contracts, you need the minor's parent/guardian's consent to use the minor's name/likeness for commercial purposes.

Significantly, in the case of Shields v. Gross, 461 N.Y.S.2d 254 (1983), Brooke Shields attempted to void the model release her mother signed when Shields was minor. The pertinent sections of the release at issue stated:

I hereby give the photographer, his legal representatives, and assigns, those for whom the photographer is acting, and those acting with his permission, or his employees, the right and permission to copyright and/or use, reuse and/or publish, and republish photographic pictures or portraits of me, or in which I may be distorted in character, or form, in conjunction with my own or a fictitious name, on reproductions thereof in color, or black and white made through any media by the photographer at his studio or elsewhere, for any purpose whatsoever; including the use of any printed matter in conjunction therewith.

I hereby waive any right to inspect or approve the finished photograph or advertising copy or printed matter that may be used in conjunction therewith or to the eventual use that it might be applied.

The New York court held that Shields, now an adult, had no right to disaffirm the consent given by her mother so that the release was still binding as to Shields.

However, once a model reaches the age of majority (usually 18), then the model, not the parent, has the right to sign a model release on his behalf. Therefore, if you don't get the release from the parent/guardian while the model is a minor, then get it from the adult model.

Thanks to Rick Dalton for submitting this topic.