Student, Shubnum Khan signed what she believed was a simple model release to get free prints during a photo shoot. She had no idea that by doing this, she signed the rights of her image away. Her images were then used as stock images which ended up in campaigns all over the world for various reasons. Not only did she have no idea her images were being used, she did not receive any payment for the various global commercial campaigns that she was in.
When Khan learned of what had happened with her images, she told her story on Twitter. She spoke about when she first discovered her image in 2012 while it was being used to promote immigration in Canada which she didn’t mind but she didn’t understand the reason her face was being used.
Over the years after that, she noticed her face being used in a number of different countries in ads trying to sell products, on billboards and in magazines. She contacted the photographer who then reminded her of the agreement that she had signed when he took her photos. This agreement allowed him to sell her photos to companies that specialized in stock images. These companies even warned the photographer that the images may end up in what they called unusual places. However, the photographer said he had the companies take her images down.
It may look like the photographer is the one that wasn’t supposed to sell the photos to stock agencies, but Shubnum didn’t read the release before signing it. She said, “Look, at the end of the day, I signed the document without reading it. I don’t agree with the way things were done to us, but I know I have myself to blame in this situation.”
The most surprising part of all of this for Shubnum was the fact that her photos were being used by companies claiming that she used their products. This means the companies were giving false testimonials and just adding her face for people to think they were real.
The moral of the story is twofold:
- Don’t believe everything you see, whether it be an ad, a testimonial, etc. Do your research before committing to a product and/or service; and
- Read all of a contract or release, whether the print be large or small, read it all.