Release Forms__________________________

General Release Form
– The general release should be used for non-actors.

Minor Release Form
– The materials release is used for obtaining permission to use photographs, video, film or other media which may be copyrighted or owned by others.

Talent Release Form
– The talent release should be used with professional actors and models.

Standard Location Release (Needed for Non-Public Spaces)
– The location release is used when you wish to photograph, videotape or record property which you do not own.

Materials Release Form
– The materials release is used for obtaining permission to use photographs, video, film or other media which may be copyrighted or owned by others.

Alternate General Release – Recorded Voice
– In the event you cannot access the online forms, and do not have access to a print form, the following can be recorded and used as a valid release by an individual


Need a Release:

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty – you want to know exactly when you really need a release:

  • If you are using a person in your video for commercial purposes.
  • If the event you are shooting isn’t at a public venue—that is, if the event is private, even if it’s in a seemingly public place. (Yes, we know about the paparazzi with long lenses in helicopters hovering over private parties in Malibu—they’re an element unto their own and often have their own serious legal issues to deal with.)
  • If the event is private, you might need permission from the owner, or agent of the property, but that is often implied or agreed upon with the person or organization that is booking the venue. If you’ve been hired to shoot the event, it’s good to look into that before you arrive with camcorder in hand.
  • If you are an invited guest to a private event, check with your hosts before you shoot, they might not want any video recorded except from their contracted vendor.
  • Places that appear to be public places but are privately owned; like a ballpark, Walt Disney World, and other large private venues.
  • You shoot someone (unknown or celebrity) in a public place who happens to be holding a can of Pepsi, Budweiser or Red Bull, for example. You can use that image, except if you are using it as an advertisement for that, or any other company. Why? You’re implying he or she is endorsing that product. (You have to remove the product shot to use the image publicly.)
  • You are using someone in a training video, regardless of whether they have a speaking part or a non-speaking role.
  • When someone’s face is seen in an advertisement, endorsement or as a representative of a business, product or service.
  • If an advertisement or endorsement includes any company or product trademark or a recognizable building.
  • If the shot was taken ON private property.
  • If the shot was taken OF private property.
  • If the shot was taken on public property of events happening on private property, like a wedding, people having a barbeque, kids in their yard or inside someone’s home without their knowledge or consent.
  • Any time, any where when you are shooting minors, especially very young children. It should be understood that you never hold the camera longer than one minute on any one child’s antics.

Don’t Need a Release:

  • When shooting for editorial coverage as a reporter, as long as you remember that you’re shooting what’s in the public interest, rather than just what might interest the public.
  • When you’re at a public place such as the beach, on the street, a government owned building like a courthouse, or federal park.
  • When the person is in the background of a shot and their features are blurred or too far away to be distinguishable.
  • Any time you are shooting in a public place that is not a private gathering (e.g., a wedding in the city park). A photo of the overall event isn’t going to bother anyone, but if you are seen shooting away for longer than about five minutes, or at one person in particular, you might incite suspicious people into calling the police.
  • If the person is not recognizable, e.g. the back of the head, hands-only model, large crowd shots, etc. or doesn’t have anything on their body that is recognizable, like a unique tattoo.

What’s that Gray Area, again?

Example: you’re hired by the promoters to shoot a local parade on public streets. There’s no way you’re going to get a release form from every person in the parade and on the street watching. You can have the promoters post signs stating this event is being videotaped, and/or you can ask the promoters to mention this fact over the PA system. The people IN the parade do so knowing they will be photographed, the people on the sidelines do not expect it. You can still show your footage in the news that night without a problem. But if you make a ‘slam’ documentary of your little town later, and use those shots, someone might complain.

Reference Article
Why and When Do You Need a Release Form: