Copyright Uncovered: What is ‘framing’, and other essential tips for photographers

    This quarter's Copyright Uncovered expands upon three essential tips for photographers, from 'framing’ to model release forms. 

    Use model release forms

    A model release form is a short document that is used by photographers to show that they have had consent from a model they’ve photographed.
    It sets out how the photographs are used after the shoot, for example the type of media the photos will be published in, whether the photos will be available in one country or internationally and any fees paid to the model. It also contains information such as the photographer’s name, the model’s name, the date of the shoot and the related product or brand.

    How does it benefit me as a photographer?

    A model release form is an essential safeguard to secure consent from a model or sitter before photographing them. It benefits you by:
    • Helping to formalise what has been agreed between you and the model 
    • Providing you with written permission to use the photograph to the extent agreed with the model
    • Giving you peace of mind

    Where can I find it?

    The Association of Photographers (AOP), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is a valuable source of information, and offers a one-page template model release form for public use. You can download the model release form from AOP and DACS.

    Any other tips?

    • Keep two accurate records of the form – one for you and one for model
    • Remember that there is a ‘right of privacy’ in certain photographs and films when commissioned for private and domestic purposes – find out more in our moral rights factsheet {link to moral rights factsheet}
    • Be aware that if you are also photographing an artwork you would need to ask permission from the artist or the copyright owner.

    Be aware of framing

    What is framing?

    Framing photos is a way of using images online without asking the permission of the person who owns the copyright in the photo –known as the ‘framing loophole’.
    Imagine you go onto a website and there is a video which has the YouTube logo. That’s an embedded video. Coding is used to feature an image or video that is hosted elsewhere on the internet.
    A ‘framed’ photo works in the same way – a website can use an image hosted on another webpage without having to copy or upload it, instead the image is pulled through from the original page and text is framed around it.

    Isn’t that copyright infringement?

    Unfortunately, not right now. In the Bestwater case, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) established that if an image is available online once, and no technical protection measures (like paywalls) are applied, framing the image onto a webpage doesn’t need the copyright owner’s permission.
    This decision arose because the ECJ views framing in the same way as hyperlinks, despite being very different technical processes.

    What can we do about it?

    European Visual Artists (EVA), of which DACS is a member, is working hard to close the framing loophole. They are calling for framing and hyperlinking to be treated differently and petitioning policy makers to change the law so that artists, including photographers, can work in a better economic environment. If you’ve had any experiences of your images being framed onto a website without your permission, get in touch via so we can support EVA’s campaign.

    Copyright advice for members

    Are you a Copyright Licensing or Artist’s Resale Right member at DACS? Remember to take advantage of our free copyright advice service for these members:

    Find out how it works

    We also have lots of useful information about copyright on our website. Browse related pages:

    Copyright uncovered 
    Knowledge Base 
    Photography factsheet  

    Not a member? Sign up now:


    The content of this article is not intended to apply to individual circumstances. It does not constitute legal advice, it is not a substitute for independent legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.
    Image: Homage to Johnny, 2002 © Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust 2018. Photo: Bruce Pert.

    Posted on by Laura Ward-Ure