A few months back I received an email from a designer who was interested in using one of my images on a billboard campaign for Catholic Social Services of Montana. She had found the image in my iStock portfolio, but considering the nature of her advertisement was concerned about some of the language in the iStock licensing agreement (emphasis added) and whether this use would be a violation:

…use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner that (i) would lead a reasonable person to think that such person uses or personally endorses any business, product, service, cause, association or other endeavor; or (ii) that depicts such person in a potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied sexual activity or preferences, substance abuse, crime, physical or mental abuse or ailments, or any other subject matter that would be reasonably likely to be offensive or unflattering to any person reflected in the Content;

After contacting iStock, she was told that the contributing artist (me!) would have to consent to the image being used in this context. When I received her email inquiring about the use of the shot, I gave her a telephone call to get all the details.

Once I had the details the decision was simple for me, I would let the model in the photograph make the decision. I felt this was the best way to go, even though the original image did not require a model release to be included in my portfolio.

As can obviously be seen by the inclusion of the billboard image on this blog post you can see that the model agreed. The designer was kind enough to email me a photo of one of the final billboards.

I like this story for a couple of reasons. First, the designer actually read the license agreement and acted accordingly to be sure she was in compliance. Second, I had the opportunity to decide how I would handle a potentially sensitive image use situation and can use this knowledge in the future.

Your thoughts?

(please keep any pro/con discussion on the billboard context out of the comments and limit it to photograph usage)