Friday, September 18, 2015

Does a Non Profit Need a Model Release?

I could start by telling one of many stories where someone did something stupid and got in trouble, or a touching story about how a video more than quadrupled a non profits donations, but that's not the speed of the internet. You want the nitty gritty and you want it now. So here goes.

First off, if you are publishing a photo/video for educational or informational purposes the general rule is that you DO NOT need a model release. When use changes to commercial purposes, you do. Just like any law there are some gray areas for what I am talking about here. That is why you don't see a lot of definitive writing about it. But if you stick to those guidelines in general it will keep you out of trouble.

Second, if they tell you not to film them, don't. Even if you have a great shot or footage of them, cut your losses. Believe me, it's worth it. You and the company you shoot for will be glad you did.

Third, if they say you can use their footage in writing, you can. It is obviously better to have the full release form signed.... but if you get an email or text message from them stating that you have permission then you should be just fine. It is few and far between when someone sues the little production company that can't pay out a lot. They usually go after the bigger pockets.

Fourth, claiming the first amendment you can shoot in public places. Do not let your camera linger on one person or event such as a wedding or you will probably get the cops called on you whether you have good intentions or not. Especially not a kid no matter what craziness they are up to. If there is a crime scene you can film public servants such as police officers and fire fighters but do not focus straight on attention to grieving or injured people. Be compassionate of what they are experiencing and get glancing or off-angle shots more behind them then beside or in front of them.

Fifth, it is best practice to announce they are being filmed at functions or fundraisers. Anyone not wishing to be filmed will then either mention they do not want to filmed or stay out of your way.

Best of luck to you in your filming and non profit projects. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. This blog is meant for entertainment purposes. One should first contact an Attorney for interpretation of laws or before proceeding with said activities. Thank you to Kivi Leroux Miller for some of the content of this article.