model release

📰 Instagram, Copyright & doing the right thing.

Before you copy an image, please think about those that created it.

model // Miquela Voss, Viviens; stylist // Hayley Canon; hair & makeup // Linda Thi; photographer // Dave Blake

model // Miquela Voss, Viviens; stylist // Hayley Canon; hair & makeup // Linda Thi; photographer // Dave Blake

A situation occurred recently on Instagram where a clothing label (re)posted 2 photographs taken by me to support it's visual brand and ultimately sell the product in their online store.

I accept that once an image is posted by me socially, I'm foregoing any practical right to control its usage, even though I will always retain the legal copyright.

So when I became aware of the use, I kindly asked the swim label, not once, but twice to please amend their posts to credit me as the photographer, as well as the creatives and talent in the main description.

The swimwear label's response was not to remedy the situation and credit the creatives, but simply write on my own original post - "please credit the swimwear" ... wow

They eventually credited the team buried in the post comments, but not the main post caption - which doesn't help if the image gets reposted socially again.

1. By reposting an image that you didn't create yourself or buy with real money, without adequate credit to the creator you're being a dick.

This article isn't coming from my ego being challenged, but I take offence to people that take without giving back.

What is adequate credit?

  1. CREDIT IN THE MAIN CAPTION - this ensures that if an image is reposted, the credit follows,
  2. USE THE ... THREE DOTS (ellipsis) TO EDIT YOUR POST - if you forget to credit, please don't just add a comment, you need to go back and edit the caption. 
  3. A 'TAG' IS NOT ENOUGH - it may sound like you're doing the right thing when you write 'Tuesday feels' (stars emoji) and tag everyone in the photo, but the credit is not picked up if the image is reposted, and many websites and twitter posts that use IG image feeds, do not use the tags. 
This situation happens a lot, and I see amazing images of many photographers and artists flying around the internet with no traceability.

The majority of people just don't know any better - when everyone does it, it's hard to know right from wrong.

2. By reposting an image that you didn't create, without permission, you're actually breaking the law.

Copyright law is complex and varies from country to country, but the basics are (both legally and ethically) the same - you always need the photographer or artist's permission to copy an image - even on Instagram. This is the concept of copyright (the right to copy).  If you don't believe it, you can lodge a legitimate copyright claim with Instagram and they will remove your copied (reposted) image.

3. If you're a business reposting an image to sell your product or service, without the model releasing his or her likeness to you, you're also risking a legal claim.

You as the shop owner (not me as the photographer) need a model release from the talent (or their Agent) which assigns the right to use his or her image, to sell your product.

4. Lots of people make their living by creating amazing images, so share the love.

  • The talent, makeup artists, hair, wardrobe stylists and art directors all contribute to making the images look like the fantasy that inspires us.
  • Creative and talent Agents are involved in producing and keeping people safe.
  • I make my full-time living taking images that inspire others.  It's not a hobby - it's what feeds and shelters me.

5. If you promote others socially more than yourself, you will get more love back from the creatives and labels that you want to work with.

  • when I see a model, creatives or label being generous with their social energy, I will be more generous with my time and energy when we work together,
  • creatives remember who is generous socially, and who is not.
  • you never know who will be involved in casting for a job - that goes for both talent and creatives

Final thoughts

Finally, I'm not that self-obsessed to think that people are going to think about me more than themselves, but I believe a little bit of perspective is sometimes a useful thing. Maybe the idea of social generosity and helping others will catch on a little more.  If you have any  thoughts on your own experiences, feel free to say hi or pop them in the comments below.


Legal disclaimer:  In this post, I've talked a little bit about copyright law and model releases, but most of what I've written about is my own opinion on what I believe is morally and ethically best practice in the context of anyone copying and reposting images socially.  Further, this post does not change the copyright status of my own images that I post socially, all of which remain copyrighted to Dave Blake in the year published, with all rights reserved.

Author: Dave Blake