Dear Sir/Madam: I am a freelance photographer and I am also working on an upcoming online fashion magazine. Recently I organized a photo shoot with a few models I have founded via Internet and a designer who agreed for the models to wear his clothes for the photo shoot purposes. The designer refurbishes and sells branded clothes. Everyone agreed to the photo shoot on these terms:
- Everyone gets the photos for their own usage
- I will use the pictures however I want, and also the ones I choose will be featured in the online magazine
- No fees charged on anyone including models, designer and myself
Right, you had a question. Unless there is a written document evidencing copyright transfer, you, as photographer own copyright in the photos. You control the reproduction and distribution and you're free to choose and reproduce the photos you want for your magazine. If the verbal agreement is enforceable -- that depends whether there is sufficient evidence to prove the terms and conditions -- you would have to abide by those terms, as well. Even if the verbal agreement is valid, it doesn't preclude you from doing what you want -- choosing the photos you wish to use in the magazine. (And you would be obligated to provide copies of the photos to the other parties.)
Do you need to mention the designer? We're not sure why you have to mention the designer or the designer's store, unless you're contractually bound to do so. The designer has no copyright in clothing design unless he's stitched in some unique artwork--for example, he's added intricate needlepoints. In any case, it might be a nice professional touch to credit the designer as fashion readers expect that information.
What about model releases? Releases are needed to head off two types of problems: invasion of privacy (you may be invading the model's privacy, for example, by showing her partially nude); or violation of the right of publicity (you're using the model's image to sell something). Typically, editorial non-commercial uses wouldn't trigger the right of publicity but with Google AdSense and similar Internet schemes, it's difficult these days to tell sometimes whether an image is being used for commercial exploitation.
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