How a model release turned an author into the poster child for…everything

Aug 4, 2018

Allen Murabayashi

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

How a model release turned an author into the poster child for…everything

Aug 4, 2018

Allen Murabayashi

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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While a university student, author Shubnum Khan signed a model release in exchange for professional portraits as a part of a project by photographer XX billed as “The 100 Faces Shoot.” Unbeknownst to her at the time, the photographer started licensing the images as stock photography, and Khan’s visage started to appear in advertisements around the world selling everything from McDonald’s hamburgers to hyper pigmentation cream to management course materials.

In a Twitter thread, Khan explained how a friend notified her that her face was being used to promote immigration in Canada, and how a reverse image search revealed how widespread the use of the image was.

In many locales, so-called “personality rights” allow individuals to control their “right of publicity” – a legal right that allows an individual to control how their likeness is used commercially. Without seeing the fine print of the model release she signed, it’s impossible to speculate whether all the licensed usages were, in fact, legal in all jurisdictions and for all uses. Releases often prohibit using a model’s likeness for controversial topics like cigarettes, adult content, etc without explicit permission from the model.

While Khan didn’t object to some usages (e.g. immigration), she was shocked at how the image was used in conjunction with fake testimonials.

According to Khan, the anonymous photographer has stopped licensing the image, but a reverse image search revealed how widespread the distribution was including royalty-free stock sites like Shutterstock, Bigstockphoto, Dreamstime, 123rf and more.

Shubnum Khan’s image was licensed on a variety of royalty-free stock photography sites

Khan has no plans to file a legal action against the photographer, but she does see the incident as a cautionary tale against “time for print” arrangements between photographers and non-professional models. “Don’t sign up for free photoshoots, read what you sign and also don’t believe most of the things you read on the internet.”

About the Author

Allen Murabayashi is a graduate of Yale University, the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter blog, and a co-host of the “I Love Photography” podcast on iTunes. For more of his work, check out his website and follow him on Twitter. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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