[Foundation-l] Are model releases required for 'Free' content? (was: Sexual Content on Wikimedia)

Sam Johnston samj at samj.net
Fri Jan 30 12:18:32 UTC 2009

> Should we take no steps to protect people who have no wish to have their
photos published worldwide on a site owned by a charity devoted to

Or to put it another way, is an identifiable image of a person really free
if that person has not given a model release (irrespective of whether the
image is sexual)?

Virgin found out down under that this is not necessarily the case after
being sued for using a 'free' (CC) picture on Flickr[1] (also discussed
here[2] and here[3]).

Creative Commons simply excludes publicity rights from its scope[4], but
perhaps this is a good way for Commons (at least) to differentiate itself
from Flickr and other 'dumping grounds'. A good analogy would be having the
rights to a specific recording without the rights to the song itself.

I'm sure it's not the first time this subject has been raised, but now the
French chapter has dragged us into the world of commercial publishing it's
probably worth [re]considering. Perhaps it is enough initially to tag images
lacking releases accordingly, with a view to having them released or
replaced? I note that this would also dispense with many concerns about
minors by requiring a minor release by parents or guardians[5].


2. http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/7680
3. http://lessig.org/blog/2007/09/on_the_texas_suit_against_virg.html
4. http://wiki.creativecommons.org/FAQ#When_are_publicity_rights_relevant.3F
5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_release

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