Getty Images is updating its model release forms for a biometric era. In that regard, the company noted that biometric data (and facial data in particular) is increasingly used to train the algorithms that are used in AI and machine learning applications. However, legislators have tried to protect people’s privacy rights in the past few years, and are starting to pass more laws that prevent the commercial use of biometric data without the individual’s consent.
That creates a major and potentially costly liability for a company like Getty, which operates a massive marketplace filled with pictures of people’s faces. The new release form is designed to make it easier for businesses to comply with the new wave of data protection laws, since models who sign the form will be giving their employer the right to use their biometric data for commercial purposes.
“We hope for it to be widely adopted and signed by models who feature in new commercial images and videos on the Getty Images and iStock websites,” explained Getty Advocacy Director and Legal Operations Counsel Paul Reinitz. “We must recognize that the increased use of biometric data contained in imagery to train AI/ML applications requires the need to ensure that we have obtained the model’s permission to use their image and data in this manner and Getty Images is at the forefront of addressing these very real concerns.”
In that regard, the new release seems like it was put together to provide legal cover for businesses, and not necessarily to protect individual privacy rights. Having said that, signing away image rights is the norm in content creation, insofar as models and actors usually know that their likenesses will be shared somewhere before going to a shoot. With that in mind, the practices that are standard in that industry might not be applicable to the general public.
Getty suggested that the new release is the first form of its kind, and stressed that it was developed in collaboration with the Digital Media Licensing Association to make sure that it would meet the latest legal expectations. The international data protection landscape is still shifting, though Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act and the EU’s GDPR regulations have now been in effect for several years and are informing similar bills in other jurisdictions.
March 25, 2022 – by Eric Weiss