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If you’ve been reading this e-letter for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the term “model release.” And so you probably know that, in some cases, you need one if you want to sell your “people” photos. But knowing when, exactly, a release is required — that can be confusing. Today, I want to clarify it for you. First, let’s brush up on what, exactly, a model release is. A model release is a standard-practice legal document. It gives a photographer permission to use or sell images of people when the people in those images are clearly recognizable.  It’s a paper signed by the photographer, her “models” (or a legal guardian if a minor is in the photo), and a witness. (If you have lots of people in your shot — a large crowd, perhaps — you’ll need a signed release from each person.) The law requires you to have such a release when: ** You use or sell the image for commercial purposes, like in advertising. ** You submit your image for sale in stock agencies, like Many times, however, you DON’T need a model release to sell your photos of people. Generally speaking, it’s when they’re being sold for “editorial” use. Say, for instance, you take a picture in a public place of a newsworthy event. The majority of newspapers and magazines can buy it from you and publish it without a model release. In fact, virtually all magazines and newspapers buy and use photos for “editorial purposes” without a model release. Say you’re traveling in Paris and take a shot of people sitting in a café. You could sell that shot to a magazine, along with your article about the best cafes in Le Marais, without securing a model release from each person. (That said, a handful of publications out there DO require releases for photos accompanying stories. Be sure to check the writers’ and photographers’ guidelines before you submit your photos.) Bottom line: Whether you’re taking photos of people to sell along with an article you’ve written, or you just want to sell the photos by themselves to magazines or newspapers, chances are you DON’T need a model release. (Again, the two major exceptions to this idea are selling photos for commercial use or to online stock agencies.) One online market where you can sell photos of people without a model release is, a site that specializes in news-type imagery. Harnessing the power of citizen journalism, it functions in much the same way online stock agencies do. We’ll tell you more about tomorrow in our featured publication. And speaking of featured publications, Travel Post Monthly will be posting an all-photo issue for the month of February. If you have between one and five photos that tell a story about (or show a unique angle of) your town or any other place you’ve been, send them to Travel Post Monthly for next month’s issue. You’ll find the photographers’ guidelines and the submission form here: ENTER TO WIN! This month’s photo challenge theme is Passages and Doorways.  If you have a picture to submit, log on to our website and click on the Enter to Win tab.  (Note: First-time users need to register on the “register” link on the right side bar first. Once you have a username and password, click “Enter to Win” to upload your photo. We’ll only consider one photo per applicant. No purchase necessary to register.) Photos are due by 8:00 a.m. EST, Monday, January 29, 2008. [Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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