Which part of Hong Kong law regulates the question where and I can take photos of people and what I can do with them later (i.e. when do I need a model release signed).

I have checked the copyright law and the privacy law but none of those seem to apply to the situation. The privacy law mainly deals with the collection of data. The commissioner himself published a book that states that simply taking a photo of someone does not constitute "collection". The copyright law also does not seem to apply since I am not violating copyright when taking someone's photo.

Can someone point me to any relevant part of the current legislation that would shed light in regards to when I need a model release of a person?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ From what I understand, and IANAL, the typical issue around model releases is not if you're allowed to take the image, but how you're allowed to use it. Also, this is a legal question; you wouldn't ask your barber for medical advice so you probably shouldn't ask photographers for legal advice. \$\endgroup\$
    – tenmiles
    May 28, 2014 at 23:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @tenmiles good point about the "take" images, fixed that. I agree with you on the IANAL-issue, but I am asking if someone know which law regulates the matter, not to give me advice on a specific case, so I think this is slightly different from a "legal advice". \$\endgroup\$
    – uncovery
    May 29, 2014 at 0:04

1 Answer 1


Well the truth is that there is probably no such thing. I believe in HK the laws are similar to the UK in the sense that if only it is listed as prohibited then you may not do it.

I don't think you will find any specific government document detailing photography and model releases, but you will likely find things covering certain areas like national security or copyright.

In the UK I know a lot of photographers are using model releases when they are simply not necessary. The images they take often fall within the copyright law and in most cases they will be used for personal reasons.

The situation around commercial stuff becomes a bit more complicated as I'm sure you know, that's when photographers use a release that in most cases is very generic and used as a "play it safe".

If the question relates to something commercial that you are really unsure about, you should really speak to a lawyer for advice on how to go about it.

P.s. I took part in some filming a few years ago for a very popular TV talent show in the UK along with thousands of other people. I noticed in the final version of the filming that the faces of people had been very cleverly 'blurred' but it was only really noticeable when I was looking very carefully at the video. I wondered why they would do this because technically it my mind it was not required but I expect they were just "playing it safe" due to the amount of people.


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