Can I use a photo of a nude model without proof of a release agreement?

Question:

I have an agent who uploads photographs that I have taken onto ISP forums. Some of these images are nudes. I have some that were taken 18 years ago at a workshop, where the workshop organizers claimed to supply models who had signed photo releases. I personally do not possess these releases. There were over 100 students shooting these models. Can I use them without liability?

Answer:

Before publishing your photos on the Internet, you had best verify the information regarding releases that was provided at the workshop.

A release is an agreement by which someone gives up all rights to sue arising from a certain activity. In your case, you need a release to shield you from claims such as defamation, invasion of privacy, or violation of the right of publicity. These types of legal claims are personal and relate to false statements, intrusions into personal affairs, or commercial uses. The person signing the release usually foregoes any right to sue over these claims. So you must weigh the risks before proceeding.

Even if you are all-fired certain that releases were signed, if one of the models sues, you will need to prove that he or she signed it -- a more difficult matter since you do not have the releases in hand.

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