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Thread: Crowd photos for stock use.

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  1. #1
    molon
    Guest

    Crowd photos for stock use.

    If i take photos of urban scenes with lots of people, when am i allowed to license these images commercially.

    Usually a model release is needed in photos with just one to a few people. I read somewhere that if more than X number of people are shown in the photo, then you won't need any model releases as it's a crowd shot.

    If this is correct, then what's the threshold? How many people onwards qualify it as a crowd?

  2. #2
    dillion
    Guest

    I shoot crowds all the time (not that I have many sales of them).

    as i submit those images, I click "more than four people" and "no model release" and I'm done with it.

    As far as my stock photo agency is concerned, they want a model release for every single person that you see in a photo.
    Even if you don't see a face, and all you see are feet, then they want a model
    release. It is silly, but that is how I read their requirements.
    In other words, if you have no model releases, make that clear when you submit the images for stock.

    Do your due diligence by making the right declarations clearly.

    How the client publishing my images uses them is up to them.
    They should make decisions based on my honest answers to the questions.

  3. #3
    Wei.Li
    Guest

    Read (in American context) that the threshold is 9+ individuals qualify the photo as a crowd shot, provided none of the individuals stand out as a principal focus.

    I'm not legally trained, so please check with the lawyers for professional opinions. I think the short answer is "it depends". It
    depends on which country or state or province or city you shot it in,
    where and how it's being published, etc. etc. etc. There is no one
    "global law" on these sorts of things. For example, the way the laws
    surrounding this issue work in America is definitely not the way they
    work in France, and if you assume it is, you could get bitten pretty
    hard.

    Such issues don't matter editorially, but commercially, it matters a lot.
    Better to err on the safe side and seek legal advice professionally.

    Sometimes, it's better to forgo a small deal/profit than to take up unnecessary legal risks or work. The hassle or costs of seeking legal help may make the sale of one crowd image pointless.

  4. #4
    Simes
    Guest

    A timely thread, as yesterday I lost a sale on this basis. My propsective customer was ready to buy then lost interest as soon as I mentioned the possible legal implications of using the crowd photo for commercial promotion on his website. I put my tongue in my cheek when I say that maybe I should have just kept my big mouth shut

    He's a professional speaker and asked me to photograph him interacting with an audience of 200+. Consequently, while it is a 'crowd' shot the people in the front two rows loom very large and are clearly identifiable individuals. It makes me nervous that they are so prominent regardless of the crowd scenario.

    Many adverts and commercial photos contain crowds. Perspective means that the people in the foreground will unavoidably be large enough to be recognized easily. Model releases are hardly practical in a street scene. Is it the done thing to simply claim "crowd shot" and not be concerned that one of our foreground subjects might pop out of the woodwork later with an objection to being portrayed without permission?

    If so, I might reclaim yesterday's lost sale

    Regards,
    Simes

  5. #5

    Hi Simes,

    I"m trying to understand here...
    Your client wants to engage you to do an event coverage PR photography shoot?
    You were concerned that people's faces are recognisable so you might get into legal trouble if he used it for advertising and promoting himself?

    In this case you shouldn't treat it as selling a stock photos or image usage
    rights.

    First of all, the nature of that assignment is such that there's zero stock
    value. You should just sell your service as if it's work for hire. Leave the
    responsibility of getting model release, if any required, to him if he wants to use it for any commercial or advertising purposes

  6. #6
    Simes
    Guest

    Hi Lance,

    The point in your last paragraph has become the issue that seems to
    have 'lost' me the sale. That is, he doesn't want to take
    responsibility for getting any (model releases) MRs, or take the risk of using it without MRs. So, he simply won't buy the image that I offered him.

    I guess my question becomes: "what can I tell him about the law that
    puts his mind at rest and removes his reluctance to buy my image?"
    Maybe I made too much of a meal out of this aspect with him and
    scared him off.

    You're right to say that this one is more of an assignment than a
    general stock-shooting issue, but the principle is common to both,
    hence my question to this forum

    Regards,
    Simon

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