Model Release Forms for Cartoons of Presidents on United States Coins

Cartoon United States Penny (One Cent)

So I have recently wrapped up a series of very fun new cartoon illustrations for my initial upload as a contributor to iStockPhoto. (more art on the full article page – link below).
All artwork has to go through a mysterious screening process to be accepted, which is kind of cool – it keeps the crap out and makes sure the end users get quality work to use for their projects.

The not so cool part is that I have been rejected, on grounds of needing a model release. The bizarre thing here is that the artwork is a series of cartoon versions of United States coins, which obviously feature human faces (the U.S. Presidents that are featured on the coins – Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Franlin “FDR” Delano Roosevelt and George Washington).

Cartoon United States coin illustration/art

How does one go about getting the authorization of a dead United States President? Will I need to contact the estate of the deceased, or is this covered by the US Mint? Will I be able to obtain a blanket release for all currency, will it be a release per-coin, or not at all? I think the ratio of time spent & potential income from getting the necessary rights will make this a money losing endeavor, but my curiosity has been piqued and I have already contacted iStockPhoto to find out more, as well as dropping a line the US Mint’s licensing contact email address. The Mint has yet to respond, no surprises there. Why even have an email address on your site if you aren’t going to respond to messages? Oh yeah, it’s the government.

Turns out the iStockPhoto policy is this: photos of coins are allowed, but illustrations of coins are not, I think due to the fact that they have a recognizable face on them (and recognizable does not necessarily mean famous). You need a model release for any recognizable person. Kinda kooky, but you can’t blame them for covering their butts.

These will be going into the online portfolio, but I wanted to get these up on the web so the blog gets the exclusive!

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