Understanding Model Release Forms used for Models who are Underage

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The Need for a Model Release Form

The legal document that photographers use when photographing models is called a model release form. Within a model release form, the model grants the photographer the rights to use the photos for commercial purposes. This agreement protects the photographer from liabilities, especially when the photographs display the model in a controversial light. But the protection is not one-sided. The model release agreement also protects the model, especially when the model is under the age of 18. Aside from ensuring consideration or valuable compensation, the agreement primarily protects the young model from exploitation.

Key Features of a Model Release Form Used for Models who are Underage

The model release form used for models that are underage is somewhat similar to the one that is used for adult models; the difference is that the agreement is between the photographer and the model’s parent or guardian. The consent of the guardian is just one of the three key features of the model release form used for minors.

Here is a closer look at what is included in a model release form used for underage models:

  • Parent/guardian’s consent – The model release form for underage models has an additional section that proves the consent of the models’ parents or guardians. The consent is expressed in the signatures as well as in the acknowledgement of the use of the photos. Some minor model release forms may also include the signature of a witness.

  • Copies of photos to be used - Copies of the photos to be used by the photographer is often not necessary, but in the case of photographing underage models, some parents will insist on knowing which pictures, exactly, of their child will be used. With adult model release forms, the model may waive the rights to inspect the pictures to be used. In lieu of copies, the photographer may state a general description of the pictures, e.g. “pictures taken on November 5, 2008 at the Columbus Zoo.”

  • Detailed description of use – Many model release forms provide blanket authority to the photographer to utilize the photographs in various media, such as print, television, or on the internet. These forms can also grant the photographer rights to use the photos “forever.” The model release form used for minors can specify limitations of the use of the pictures.

Some photo usage limitations that can be set in place to protect the underage model include the following:

  • Personal information of the young model, aside from the name, will not be made public or released to any third party.

  • Only lawful use of the photographs is permitted, pornographic or defamatory use of the photos is strictly prohibited.

This post is part of the series: Protect Yourself as a Photographer - Legal Aspects to Consider

This article series is about the legal aspects that a photographer must think about when (s)he intends to make a business out of photography. Including information on legal documents, such as the model release form and photo contracts.

  1. Legal Documents that a Photographer Needs
  2. Understanding the Model Release Form
  3. Photographing Underage Models - Model Release Forms
  4. TFP Contracts with Aspiring Models