Navigating Release Agreements and Protecting Your Small Business - Purple Fox Legal

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Navigating Release Agreements and Protecting Your Small Business

By Purple Fox Legal

March 9, 2022

One of the greatest advantages of owning and operating a small business is the ability to work with the public in new and exciting ways. From interviewing successful entrepreneurs in your field to photographing your own marketing materials, business owners have quite a bit of creative freedom. With it, however, comes the responsibility to protect yourself and your business assets. One of the simplest ways to do that is by receiving written consent through different release agreements.

Release forms are an easy way to protect your small business by lowering your liability and documenting a person’s consent. This article defines release forms, their purpose, and the most important types for small businesses. 

What is a Release Form and When Do I Need One?

A release form is a legal document that provides written evidence of a person’s consent to grant a small business with certain permissions or liability releases. Put simply, release agreements act as a way to protect your business and educate your client. 

They can be used in various scenarios and for a multitude of different reasons, but the main purpose of release agreements is to:

  • Protect a small business from liability, and/or
  • Grant permission for a business to use certain materials that contain a person’s image or likeness

In order to best protect your small business, it’s important to know that there are several different release agreements. Each one serves an individual and unique purpose. It’s a good business practice to familiarize yourself with these agreements and the times when you may need them.  

Release Agreements Your Small Business Should Know About

There are three main release forms that your small business should remain familiar with and keep on hand. These agreements can help protect your small business when used properly and appropriately. That’s why it’s always important to determine and outline the scope of your business activities before conducting them. 

The three main release forms to keep on hand include:

  1. Location Release

A location release is a document most often used by filmmakers and photographers that will be shooting footage in a certain location. The form is useful for providing written permission from the property owner and outlining exactly what you are (and aren’t) allowed to do on the property. It doesn’t matter whether your small business is involved in shooting a documentary, social content, or other similar production, a location release is required for protecting those activities. 

A location release form is almost always required for small business activities to take place on private property, but this could be the case for certain public locations as well. Business owners should make sure to do their best research and ensure they gain permission from the actual property owner for the location release to be valid. 

  1. Guest Release Agreements

Also referred to as a talent release form, the guest release agreement is most often used by podcast owners or businesses with YouTube channels. This legal document is useful for preventing you from being sued for using someone’s image, likeness, or voice for commercial purposes. And, it can come in handy for ensuring that your content remains firmly in your ownership. Guest release agreements should be signed at the start of production and will protect you for the duration of the project. 

  1. Photo Release

Photo release agreements, which are often called model release forms, are used by photographers and filmmakers to publish certain images that include people, pets, and sometimes property. Basically, a photo release agreement is a photography contract, and it often provides the model with something in return, whether that be financial compensation or physical prints of the finished photos. This signed form is required whenever a photographer plans to publish images of a person other than themselves. 

Do You Know How to Protect Your Business with a Release Agreement?

Taking advantage of release agreements is a huge, but simple, way to protect your small business. And, going through the trouble to learn about them now can prevent a whole lot of heartache in the future. But it can be difficult to know the exact agreement that may be required in any given situation. 

To help you navigate the world of release agreements and ensure you’re protecting yourself properly, consider reaching out to an experienced attorney.