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A release is a written agreement between you and the person you are photographing, or the person who owns the property you are photographing, which gives you permission to sell the image commercially. If the image is used in an advertisment or promotion it will need a release, but you can sell an image for “Editorial use” even if it doesn’t have a release.

Commercial use
is when an image is used to advertise, promote, sell or endorse a product, service, organisation or brand. Examples include billboards and print advertising.
Editorial use
is when an image is used in conjunction with, and to illustrate, a story or descriptive piece of text. Examples include magazine or newspaper features and books.
A model release
says the person being photographed has given consent to be photographed and to the use of the images you capture. It doesn’t just apply to professional models or situations where people know they are posing for photos. You should seek to get a signed model release any time that your photos contain images of people, unless you are certain that you will never want to use them for anything other than editorial purposes.
A property release
says that the owner of a certain property, such as a pet or a building, has given you consent to take and use images of the property. You don’t need one for public property, such as government buildings (although you may run into problems just from photographing them, for security reasons). But for images of private property and particularly of objects that are closely identified with specific people you are safer if you get a release.

The releases you obtain should be saved forever and should be linked in some way with the photographs to which they relate. You can expect to be asked to produce them whenever you license an image, and you will need them if you ever have to defend yourself in court.

Some definitions courtesy of American Society of Media Photographers.


Why you need releases for people and property

Remember, if you don’t have a release for certain content, you can sell it as Rights Managed (RM) and set restrictions to “Editorial use only“.




Uploading and assigning model / property releases to your images

Screenshot of “My Alamy”
Releases indication
  1. Go to My Alamy.
  2. Under “Organise images”, click “Manage images”.
  3. Next to each image, indicate whether there are people or property that need a release.
  4. Indicate whether you have a release
  5. In Manage Images go to upload releases link in toolbar at top. This should open a window similar to upload images.
  6. Select the “choose releases to upload” on the top right hand side. Select the releases you wish to upload from the browse function (you can select multiple releases to upload at one time) then click upload.
  7. When the files have uploaded you can search for the images which require the releases using Manage Images’ search function. When you have found the image, open it and bring up the attributes tab.
  8. In the box to the right of “Do you have model / property releases? – yes” is the “Assign releases” box. Click on this box and it will open a list of your uploaded releases on the left hand side with “model/property release(s) assigned to this image” window on the right.
  9. Select your appropriate model/property release and click the “Add” button. Your model/property release will now appear in the right hand side window. Click save and close. There should now be (1) to the right of the Assign releases box. Save changes and close the image box.

Note: The licence type you set for your images may be determined for you depending on your answers to questions 3 and 4.



The summary below is intended to provide general guidelines and information with respect to releases. It should not be thought of as a definitive guide and we recommend that if you have questions concerning the need for a release, you should consult a lawyer.

Remember, if your Rights Managed (RM) images are intended to be used editorially, i.e. non commercial use then a release should not be required.

However if you intend to sell your Rights Managed (RM) images for commercial use, or wish to sell them on Alamy as either Royalty Free (RF) or Rights Managed - Exclusive (RM-E) then the below summary applies:

When a model release is required
Subject Description Release needed?
Identifiable Any person who is identifiable in any way Yes
Silhouette Recognisable by shape Yes
Professional sports and team logos (identifiable) The players face and/or the players number, team jersey logo, or helmet icon is visible Yes
Crowd scene Any person who is identifiable in any way Yes
Public / Civil servants, uniforms and equipment Police, Fire, Medics Yes
Celebrities or public figures Recognisable figures photographed in an arranged or public situation intended for any advertising use Yes
Body part (hand model) Includes all body parts, even if face is not visible Yes
When a property release is required
Subject Description Release needed?
Galleries, museums, theme parks, and places open to public. Depends on the photographic policy of the property concerned. Some places open to the public have photographic policies in place which may mean that by taking images on these properties you are bound by contract. Yes
Public property Government buildings, public schools, parks. No
Private property - identifiable. Homes, office buildings, private schools, universities and the surrounding property, cars, boats, private and corporate jets and planes. Studio locations with identifiable features. Yes
Private property - unidentifiable. Locations with no identifiable features. No
Private property from public accessible location. For example, a street or motorway. Building(s) in an image whose central focus is not these buildings. For example landscapes and skylines. No
Famous locations, landmarks. Release required unless properties classified as being in the public domain. Rules vary from building to building and country to country so it is incumbent on you to check your legal position with regards to such images. Yes / No
Corporate logos and insignias. Any trademarked logos or insignias. Yes
Historic Locations. Monument or historic home. Need to check with property owner. Yes / No
Product designs Recognisable designs that may be subject to a patent or trademark, this can stretch from everything from computers, MP3 players through to children’s toys and figurines. Yes
Corporate logos and insignias. Any trademarked logos or insignias. Yes
Pet / Zoo / Farm / or rare animals. A recognisable animal. Excludes wildlife. Yes
Publicly displayed art. Privately-owned art that is publicly displayed. Excludes art classified as being in the public domain. Yes
Copyright Licences
Subject Description Clearance required?
Works of Art. Sculptures, paintings, drawings, installations etc. Photographs of Artwork that is protected by copyright should not be submitted to Alamy. Yes
Logos / trademarks. Images which are of a logo and very little else should not be uploaded to Alamy as they represent a breach of copyright. Images which include identifiable logos or trademarks can only be sold for editorial usages, and should be restricted for advertising and promotional usages. Yes


The information supplied by Alamy above and on the site in regards to model and property releases is intended solely for information only. You should not rely upon it for any specific questions you may have in regards to model/property releases. You are advised to seek legal advice before relying on any information contained in these guidelines or on the site.

The single most important consideration is that the information that you apply to your images on Alamy is current and correct. Customers will be clear whether they need a release and the site does allow then to filter in/out released images. If they are supplied with the facts they can make an informed judgment based on their particular project. Please be aware that if you claim that you have a model/property release when you do not, then you risk litigation.


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