Releases for photographs

Paul W. Frields stickster at
Thu May 6 19:13:50 UTC 2010

As we put together new marketing and release materials it's clear the
Fedora Marketing and Design teams want to show the many varied faces
of our community in conjunction with Fedora.  We have a lot of great
people who put a huge amount of time into making this a fantastic
project and distro.  Showing their faces in Fedora makes a strong
statement about Fedora and our community.

However, as the photographers among you know, presenting people as
subjects in photos can generate some legal issues.  Photographers
often have models or subjects complete a release form for several
reasons. One of the most prominent is to allow the photographer to use
the photos as described without fear of legal repercussions from the
subject. This release is not for the copyright in the photo, which
belongs to the photographer, but for permission from the person shown
in the photo to use an image of his or her face and body publicly.

This release, though, doesn't really work the same way as licensing of
code and content.  Our participants willingly contribute code and
other content under licenses that allow a wide variety of reuse and
remixing.[1]  But people generally aren't as comfortable letting
someone reuse their faces in a completely unexpected context, like
selling cigarettes or in a photo manipulation contest.  And of course,
Fedora contributors might use people as subjects in their photos who
aren't contributors.  For these reasons, we can't simply include this
kind of release into our new contributor agreement.

As a project, we'd very much like to continue having people
participate through photography, for materials like our one-page
release notes[2].  To do that, we probably need to have a general
release form that covers photos of people to be published on the wiki,
or reproduced in paper formats for release and publicity materials
related to the Fedora Project.  Unlike the licenses we require for
code, though, the release would only be for Fedora's use and no one

Assuming we reach a point of having such a release, we'd add a note to
the wiki footer about the specific exception to our CC BY-SA 3.0
licensing where photographs of people are concerned.  We'd link to an
appropriate new section on the Legal page indicating the restrictions
around the content, explain why, and point to the release form.

Because we realize this practice departs from our normal principle of
completely reusable and remixable content, our legal counsel and I
want to discuss this with the community, and hear their thoughts and
concerns regarding a release.  I had a few specific questions to start

* Given the rights people generally have in the use of their faces and
  bodies in published materials, is this an appropriate place for us
  to make an exception to our principle of reusability and

* Are there ways you wouldn't be comfortable with the Fedora Project
  using a photo of you?

* Would you like to have the ability to grant this kind of release
  within the Fedora Account System?

* * *

[1] The CC BY-SA 3.0 license we use for content predicts that there
    might be content in which someone has rights other than copyrights
    that may need to be addressed separately.  From the human-readable
    summary of the CC BY-SA 3.0 license: "In no way are any of the
    following rights affected by the license: . . . Rights other
    persons may have either in the work itself or in how the work is
    used, such as publicity or privacy rights."

    (Note all the people on this page have specific release forms on
    file, but we would like to generalize the process and make it as
    easy as possible to contribute.)

Paul W. Frields                      
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          Where open source multiplies:

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