What you need to know about creating promotional content

As you tell your club's story, it's important to abide by local laws and standard practices related to the creation, acquisition, use, and distribution of all photos, videos, and voice recordings. Consider the privacy of your fellow club members and those who are affected by Rotary's work, and establish practices that will allow them control over how their information and images are used.

Consult a local attorney for advice regarding the recording of images and voices of beneficiaries, club members, and community members, and to obtain a model release that is valid in your country or state.

Rotary International wants to promote the work done by Rotary clubs and use member submitted content, but verbal permission or permission via email from a member is no longer sufficient. RI cannot use any submitted content where a model release was not obtained, or where the member does not own or does not have the right to license the content.

What is the purpose of a model release?

A model release ("release") notifies the subject that you will be recording their image, voice, story, and/or personal information, and allows the person to consent to the photograph, video, interview, or other recording ("recording") and your use of it. The person should clearly understand how the recording will be used. The release protects the subject, the person who created the recording, and your club against possible legal claims, including invasion of privacy, violation of the right of publicity, and defamation. A model release is also referred to as a likeness release or personal release.

When should I use a release?

Any time you record an identifiable person. If you want to use (publish) a recording, you need a release from each identifiable person in it. You should also obtain a release for illustrations, digital or otherwise, based on real people. Ask that the release be signed in conjunction with the recording.

Should the release be in writing?

Yes. While oral releases may be valid in some countries and states, a written release protects you if the subject claims that they never agreed to the release.

Are there different considerations regarding children?

Yes. A parent, legal guardian, or legal representative of a minor child must sign the release. In the United States, anyone under 18 years of age is a minor child. Consult the laws of your country or state for legal age. Worldwide, RI requires the parent, legal guardian, or legal representative to sign a release for any person under 18 years of age.

If I am filming a group, can I use one release?

One person can't sign a release on behalf of an entire group (for example, a coach can't sign on behalf of a team). Consult an attorney if you are considering using release language on event signs or on event registration forms.

If my club is a nonprofit, are there different considerations?

No. It's not likely that your club will qualify for exceptions granted to news agencies or that your use will qualify as news or public interest commentary. Telling a story about your club's activities could be considered marketing or promotional in nature and a release can help protect you legally.

When is a property release necessary?

A property release may be necessary when the property in a recording is clearly identifiable. For example, if a brand name or trademark appears on the property, or if the building is protected under trademark and/or copyright law.

What basic clauses are included in a model release?

A standard model release includes:

  • An agreement from the subject that you have a right to record their image and voice
  • An agreement from the subject that you have a right to record and use their name, story, and personal information
  • A reference as to how you will use the recording of their image, voice, story, or personal information (Unlimited use is preferable.)
  • A reference to any geographic limitations on the use of the recording (Worldwide use is preferable.)
  • A reference to the time frame in which the recording can be used (Unlimited term is preferable.)
  • A right to license the use of the recording to another party, including to a club or third parties
  • A statement acknowledging any payment (consideration) the subject received for the release
  • A waiver from the subject to inspect or approve the recording
  • An agreement from them not to sue
  • A statement of copyright ownership (The person taking the recording owns the recording.)
  • Any other terms required by the laws of your country or state
  • Signature lines, including those for a parent, legal guardian, or legal representative

Does RI provide a release for clubs to use?

Because the laws regarding releases vary by country and state, RI cannot provide a form for clubs to use. Consult a local attorney for a release. Legal rights organizations, universities, and photography organizations in your area may also have online resources for public use. Search for "model release," "likeness release," or "interview release."

Other release considerations

Best practices call for you to:

  • Store a signed release with an image of the subject indefinitely so you can easily match the person who appears in a recording with their release
  • Protect the best interests of the subject before any other consideration
  • Consider the political, social, and cultural ramifications of the subject's personal story
  • Do not publish images or stories that may put the subject or the subject's family at risk
  • Confirm the accuracy of the story, especially when the story is about a minor
  • Strongly consider not using recordings of minors
  • Translate a release into the national language of the proposed subjects

Copyright considerations

The copyright to a recording is owned by the person who takes the photograph, video, interview, or other recording. If a club member photographs or records a subject, that club member, and not the club, owns the copyright or rights to the recording. The club must obtain permission or a license from the owner before using the photograph, video, or other recording. If the owner wants to grant use (license) of the recording to another person or entity, including the club, the subject(s) of the recording must consent to such license in the release.