A “release” is an agreement by which someone waives (gives up) any rights to sue arising from a certain activity. A release is usually needed when a publication (or broadcast) of a person’s name or image may trigger legal claims such as defamation, invasion of privacy, or violation of the right of publicity. These types of legal claims are personal and relate to false statements, intrusions into personal affairs, or commercial uses of a personality. The person signing the release usually forgoes any right to sue over these claims.
Traditionally, releases (sometimes known as “model releases”) are needed when a person’s name or image is used for commercial purposes. However, there may be other instances, as described within this chapter, in which it may be prudent to obtain a signed release. This chapter provides samples and explanations of two types of personal releases, a release to use interview statements, and a release to use images of property (such as photos of a building) in an advertisement.