What is a Model Release and why is it important in porn?

A model release or liability waiver is a legal release granting rights and permissions for someone to post photos or videos of the person who signs the release. They are important because the person who will be selling the pornography needs to prove that they hold the rights to profit from the scene when it contains another person. A model release should always include the models name, the sellers name, the date and location the content was created, who the rights are being released to (the seller) as well as how and where the images or video will be used. It should also include any details on fees paid to the model, and the models full name and stage name, signature, address, and contact information. Any content created for commercial purposes needs a model release. This includes photo and video. In pornography specifically, it is also important to get photos of the ID and of the model holding the ID next to their face to remain 2257 compliant. Model releases are important in porn because they protect the seller from having their content removed if the model claims to have rights to the content or claims they didn’t agree to the publication/selling of the content.

Indie Pornstars are required to get model releases for any scene partners that they work with in order to sell videos

Many popular clip sites even have built in model releases that you can easily save and print directly from their website, while these model releases are helpful for establishing ownership of the content they don’t always cover all of the bases. As a model becomes more established they will start to build their own “brand” and models should do their best to represent their brand and its image in a positive way which includes avoiding negative press. When you work with another model you will often base the collaboration and its benefits off of how that person represents themselves at that time, so when you print out your model release and hand it to the other model to fill out it seems like a good thing, but that content will exist forever and the good reputation of your scene partner may not. It is important to prepare yourself and your brand for any scenario that could happen, before it happens.

There are some basics that should be included in every Model Release for pornography

Model releases in porn are a little different than standard model releases, since the indie industry is always changing and is very “brand oriented.”

-Some things to ALWAYS include in your model release should be:
Lowest selling price, highest selling price, and the regular sale price for video and photo content. (Very important if you don’t do content trade and share the content)
The sites that they will be selling the content on.
If the content can be included in sales.
The best contact information to request more sites to sell content on/inquire about the sale of the content.
Specifically designate which rights are granted to the seller of the video/photos.
Any aliases the model may have, and any aliases the seller may have.
Any stipulations that would cause the rights holder to forfeit their rights.
Location, date, and name or short description of content filmed.
Legal name, address, phone number, and email for seller and model.

You should always sit down together and review the requirements of the release BEFORE signing. You should sign and date the release after all additions and stipulations have been made to the release. Some producers will even record the reviewing and signing of the document.

Creating a unique Model Release that covers all of the bases to protect your brand is important

It’s time to ditch the template provided by the sites, or improve upon it. While you can easily make changes yourself, it may also be helpful to chat with a lawyer and have them come up with a final copy for you. Lawyers know what will and will not hold up in court if the situation ever escalates to that level. Before you talk to a lawyer or start drafting up your own model release, you may want to brainstorm the things you’d like included. Here’s a list to help you get started:

-Would you want them to retain the rights to sell/reproduce/profit from your image/brand:
If they were convicted of a felony that could draw mainstream press attention?
If they were arrested for a violent crime that could draw mainstream press attention?
If they started to create racist content?
If they started selling on different sites who’s policies you don’t agree with?
If they were planning to give it away for free/highly discounted?
If they became involved in a situation which could compromise your identity/dox you?
If they weren’t willing to do DMCA take downs for the content?
If they were found complicit in some form of piracy?
If they doxxed another model?
If they doxxed you?

If you would not want them to retain the rights to your image/brand after any of the mentioned things, consider adding a section to your model release specifying things that would cause the rights holder to forfeit their rights. Obviously for their rights to be forfeited, you would need factual evidence to prove they broke their model release contract with you. They can either take you to court to fight it, or message sites personally to dispute the problem. That is why it is so important to make sure you cover all the bases in your model release.

Some websites will be lenient in extreme cases

From personal experience, most websites will be as helpful as they can especially in more extreme cases. It may be worth reaching out to the sites you sell through and that the model you work with sells through to ask them how they would handle the content posted on the persons account if they were unable to be contacted, unable to delete/modify content themselves, and in a situation that could result in your identity being compromised.

Being as specific as possible in your Model Release can save you time and stress down the road

When working with other producers, no matter how professional they may be at the time of shoot, people can change over time. Protecting your image/brand should be your number one priority when collaborating with other models. When you plan to work with other models you should be clear about your model release, and even shoot them a copy of it before making the plans so they will know what they are signing and will be able to review it themselves or have a lawyer review it for them. It may also be worthwhile for you to get them to sign and NDA (non-disclosure agreement) to prevent them from giving out your personal information.

Ready to get started on your Model Release?

You can check out ManyVids Co-Model Agreement for a template. If you’re already a ManyVids model you can find this document under your settings. It is also very easy to find more templates online. Always make sure to read through your release and check for errors before providing your final copy to your scene partner. It is also highly recommended to reach out to a lawyer regarding any clarifications about the legal contents of the document.

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