July 16th, 2012

ASMP Offers Model Release Forms as Free App

American Society of Media Photographers, a trade association for professional photographers, has converted its standard model and property release forms into a free downloadable app for iPhones and iPads. The app is available now through the iTunes store.

As ASMP explains on its Web site, the releases use standard release language, relevant to most still and motion projects that photographers might license. With the app, models (and parents or guardians of minors who are subjects of a photo), property owners and witnesses can sign the release using a finger or stylus on the touch screen. The signed releases indicate they have given consent to be photographed and given permission to the photographer to use the image. Each release includes fields which can be customized for entering information on the model or property.

With the camera on iPhones and iPads, you can take a photo of the subject or property to attach to the release. A PDF file of the signed release can then be sent via email to a client, stock agency or your own computer.

Standard model and property release language provides a level of protection if the subject files claims for defamation or invasion of privacy. Leslie Burns, a photography consultant who recently became a lawyer, recently noted in the PDN article “5 Things You Should Not Do Yourself” that there are exceptions. Burns advised that if you shoot erotica, nudes, “or kids in any way, shape or form,” consult a lawyer about your model releases “because there’s a greater risk of getting sued,” she said.

Related articles:
5 Things You Should Not Do Yourself

Vampire Weekend (Model Release) Case Dismissed

Vampire Weekend Album Cover Model Sues Band, Photographer for $2Million (archived)

July 5th, 2012

Getty IPO On Hold as $4 Billion Private Equity Sale Looms

Earlier this year Getty Images, the largest stock photo agency, retained Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase to evaluate the possibility of a sale or an initial public offering (IPO). According to reports published yesterday by The Wall Street Journal and Reuters, Hellman & Friedman, the private equity firm that owns Getty, is preparing for the second round of a bidding process that would see the stock agency sold to another private equity firm for between $3.5 and $4 billion. (Hellman & Friedman also owns PDN parent company Nielsen.)

Unnamed sources for the Wall Street Journal said the IPO was on hold while private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. and TPG, among others, evaluated their interest in purchasing Getty. Earlier this year KKR invested $150 million in European microstock agency Fotolia.

Hellman & Friedman was rumored to have paid $2.4 billion for a majority stake in Getty Images in 2008, which was publicly traded at the time.

According to the Reuters report, Getty “has seen little growth in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) since Hellman bought it but has enjoyed increasing demand for its online imagery products and services.”

Since Getty became private, the agency has made several moves that may have been geared to making the company look more attractive to potential buyers in the lead up to a sale or IPO. The cost-cutting measures have affected its contributing photographers, and the agency has also gone through rounds of layoffs. For instance in November of last year, Getty introduced tough new contracts, cutting back royalties it pays to photographers, telling contributors that rights-managed images that have not sold well will be moved to royalty-free collections while the royalty-free images would be sold as part of subscription packages. The move drew the ire of photographers’ trade associations ASMP and APA, as well as a lengthy string of comments on our blog.

May 31st, 2012

Judge Allows ASMP and Authors Guild Suits Against Google to Proceed

A federal court judge has ruled that the Authors Guild and the American Society of Media Photographers have standing to sue Google on behalf of their members to try to stop the Google Books program. The trade associations have filed two separate lawsuits on the grounds that Google is copying millions of books without permission, in violation of copyright law.

The interim ruling in the case, issued today also cleared the way for Authors Guild members to press their case as a class action lawsuit, which Google had tried to prevent.

The ruling is a procedural decision, not a final ruling on the merits of the case. But it is important because it effectively blocks Google from using a divide-and-conquer strategy to defeat the claims of the plaintiffs.

The full story is now on PDNOnline.