How a Model Release Turned Her into a Poster Child for…Everything

How a Model Release Turned Her into a Poster Child for…Everything

While a university student, author Shubnum Khan signed a model release in exchange for professional portraits as a part of a project by photographer XX billed as “The 100 Faces Shoot.” Unbeknownst to her at the time, the photographer started licensing the images as stock photography, and Khan’s visage started to appear in advertisements around the world selling everything from McDonald’s hamburgers to hyper pigmentation cream to management course materials.

In a Twitter thread, Khan explained how a friend notified her that her face was being used to promote immigration in Canada, and how a reverse image search revealed how widespread the use of the image was.

In many locales, so-called “personality rights” allow individuals to control their “right of publicity” – a legal right that allows an individual to control how their likeness is used commercially. Without seeing the fine print of the model release she signed, it’s impossible to speculate whether all the licensed usages were, in fact, legal in all jurisdictions and for all uses. Releases often prohibit using a model’s likeness for controversial topics like cigarettes, adult content, etc without explicit permission from the model.

While Khan didn’t object to some usages (e.g. immigration), she was shocked at how the image was used in conjunction with fake testimonials.

According to Khan, the anonymous photographer has stopped licensing the image, but a reverse image search revealed how widespread the distribution was including royalty-free stock sites like Shutterstock, Bigstockphoto, Dreamstime, 123rf and more.

Shubnum Khan’s image was licensed on a variety of royalty-free stock photography sites

Khan has no plans to file a legal action against the photographer, but she does see the incident as a cautionary tale against “time for print” arrangements between photographers and non-professional models. “Don’t sign up for free photoshoots, read what you sign and also don’t believe most of the things you read on the internet.”


Next Post:
Previous Post:
This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Kyrani at 1:13 pm

    I hope she’s not blaming the photographer for this. If you’re not paying the photographer in cash or other compensation, and you opt for signing a model release, you are signing your rights away. End of story.

  2. Pierre at 7:43 am

    I should mention models who get a free shoot with hi res images in exchange for a model release knowing full well it is for stock and then ask me to delete and stop licencing images .a few years later because they have a respectable job

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *