Why do You Need Release Forms?

Why do You Need Release Forms?


Great timing to educate sh

VM4GLENN's picture
Great timing to educate shooters, again: many people in an array of business that are now using video to market their business, or give exposer to their service, don't realize their actions could have them facing legal issues. From the shots they take, to the music they use freely, then upload it. Please cover- Educational procedures, and how the law effects students.

I like the article, althou

I like the article, although there's a lot of mixing ethical restrictions with legal restrictions without clearly distinguishing which is which. Hurting someone's feelings does not necessarily mean you can't use the image. Making someone angry does not necessarily mean you can't tape them. Documentaries thrive on conflict and emotions. And sometimes you really do want to take pictures of people who really don't want you to do so. As you do clearly point out, the education value should guide judgment. I did find the article useful; thanks!

Documentaries and Release Forms

Maxheadspace, point well taken. You're right, a lot of documentarians shoot first, and ask permission later - if they even do that. This is the difference between a commercial shoot and a documentary. Producers of this genre have a lot of leeway, but do get into legal waters sometimes. Well known PBS documentarian won a legal battle with the City of New York when he refused to release his out-take footage from a documentary. 




Good documentarians go into the business knowing their rights, and knowing when they can shoot and when they shouldn't. I was implying that "making someone angry" when you're merely shooting activities at a parade isn't going to get your footage on the local TV news; but documentaries thrive on emotions, which will have different focus than the average layperson with a camcorder in public. We've written lots of stories on the legalities and business of making documentaries, readers can find those and more in our Business section online. http://www.videomaker.com/how-to/business

Managing Editor jorourke@videomaker.com VM Customer Support: 1-800-284-3226

Aren't you forgetting abou

Aren't you forgetting about something? The US jurisdiction concerns less than 5% of the world population (i.e. more than 95% of people live elsewhere than the US). I myself live in Switzerland (that's in Europe, a continent with 10% of the world population), and in Europe, laws differ from country to country, including privacy, publicity, "droit l'image" (a concept non-existent in anglo-saxon jurisdictions, but relatively similar to privacy/publicity). I am not a lawyer, but any contract between a European photographer/videographer and European model has no reason of having a US choice-of-law clause (cherry-picking a foreign jurisdiction is a very dodgy procedure, and other from seeming very strange to the model, it is not sure to be taken as valid by the courts). As a matter of fact, I have been always looking for an "international" howto on model releases, taking into account common jurisdictional aspects of various countries.

Shooting Video for International businesses

Unfortunately, since Videomaker is based in the U.S. A., NabilStendardo, we can't define the legalities of shooting in other countries other than in the United States, and even here, the laws vary state to state. We're hoping as the world becomes more connected, there will be more need to define international law. 

Managing Editor jorourke@videomaker.com VM Customer Support: 1-800-284-3226

Model Forms

Video Sue's picture

Thanks for the very informative post and the sample Model Forms.  This is a subject we struggle with frequently as we are paid or pro bono videographers for business and special events, not news media.

We have run into a lot of problems with shooting locations.  Can a business sign on a street corner or building (shopping centers, sporting arenas, hotels, churches, zoo, or community based busines) be used without permission?  It can be viewed 24/7 by the public. 

Would appreciate any feedback on this issue.


Buildings and Business signs seen on public property

I'm pretty sure in your situation, Video Sue, that the buildings or business signs n the background would be ok to shoot. They are being seen from a public arena. It's when you're making money on that shot, either through commercial production or a stock footage site, that you need to evaluate how it's used. If it's a general "this is our town" scene, then it would be ok. If it's showing the McDonald's golden arches as the primary focus and you're selling the footage, then you might have trouble. Make sure to read all of the "What's Legal" columns by our attorney, Mark Levy. He has good insight into many such shooting situations.



Managing Editor jorourke@videomaker.com VM Customer Support: 1-800-284-3226

How Long?

dcv99's picture

Two questions: How long do you have to keep releases? Can you scan them and keep electronic versions?