Shooting French Models in France

I recently answered this question on the Seattle ASMP listserve, and it seemed like a good little nugget to share: Are there special release for photographing French (citizens) models in France? Short answer: yes. Long answer: read on.

If you are shooting commercially in France, French citizen models have special rights that are more restrictive than (to my knowledge) anywhere else in the world. Basically, releases there are not good for life – the models can effectively cancel the agreement to use their image or likeness on intervals of 3-5 years. Typical French releases there include a provision that the contract is binding for 5 years, after which time if the model chooses to contact the photographer and cancel the agreement, they can do so. Releases usually also include some auto-renew language such that if the model does NOT contact the photographer that the release renews on additional three year increments.

This typically doesn’t effect commercial ad shooters since rights are usually highly monitored anyway according to the campaign, but it really undermines photographers shooting stock there. As a work around, if you are shooting in France it’s likely more efficient to use non-French citizen models if possible. Otherwise you may get a call in 5 years…and have a heck of a mess on your hands.

Separately, this does not apply if you’re just shooting French speaking people (citizens of France or not) outside of France. That is, if you’re shooting people in Tahiti or French people here in the USA, a regular US release translated into French should cover you.

You can get a copy of both releases – French in France, and just USA release translated into French – here at Getty’s release page. The also explain the difference nicely.

Disclaimer: I’m no lawyer – the info herein is just what mine tells me and what I’ve learned from shooting over there a bunch.

Lastly, it’s an interesting topic -legally and ethically- that the laws there do not allow the model to sign away his or her rights permanently. Since the ethical discussion could make for a long blog entry, I’ve just put the nuts and bolts here. But what do you think ethically, is this a good thing??

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