Legal question

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    • #43939

      If you shoot a parade on a public street, are there any copyright issues? You can see the people in the shots, and in the parade. Do you need each persons ok, or is it legal because it was public?

    • #184127

      I have shot “live” coverage and edited a “canned” version of the Seal Beach, California, holiday parades, complete with Santa, and area businesses and youth club floats, bands, etc. In that particular situation, working either under the auspices of the SBTV-3 cable channel, and as an independent, even dubbing selling copies on demand, I’ve not run up against any legal challenges. I’ve obtained no releases other than verbal authorization by the city council to do so – both ways, for community cable and as a privately produced program.

      I have unofficially and without clearance, videotaped, edited, submitted to cable television and sold copies of the Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco.

      And, I have unofficialy and without clearance or authorization, shot not only July 4th and related parades in Huntington Beach, both ways, as well as the local Iron Man competition, local/area marathons and 10k, etc. runs, Easter parades, as well as major events at area cemetery/mortuary establishments (these with the blessing of the establishment for event coverage, selling copies of the event as well as being paid by the establishment to shoot, edit & deliver what might be being held on private commercial property but is none-the-less a public event).

      Last, but not least, usually only with the verbal approval of the planning organization I have produced video of car shows, powwows, renaissance events, etc. with NO legal problems/requirements thus far. That is not to say I haven’t simply just been lucky (I often will do things guerrilla style using the “eat” cookies from the jar before asking approach) but thus far over a period of many years these type events have been produced, shown on cable on area public access channels and sold privately to inquiring parties without legal ramifications.

      Is/was all this “legal” in the letter of the law(s)? Probably not, but…

      Not intended, of course, as legal advice. Not responsible for any actions taken or liability incurred by persons using this information. I do not claim to have legal license or knowledge of the many potential laws that might govern videotaping and production or the public showing paid or private of such events by any given state or other governing entity. Necessary disclaimer.

    • #184128

      Technically anyone’s face that shows in a video must have signed off the right for you to do so. Most of the time in extra’s by means of a mass crowd nothing happens with it.

    • #184129

      Earl and Jedichick are both right.

      Technically you are supposed to get permission from those who’s faces are shown in a crowd, but most times that is impossible to do. However, when shooting an event in a public place like a parade, park, etc. with large numbers of people you are allowed to do so particularly if you are shooting news footage and not focusing on specific individuals in a crowd like you would during on the spot interviews. Ideally, you want to get a signed release from those you focus on for interviews, but if time does not allow the best thing to do is record them giving their full name and giving their permission for you to shoot them on camera. It gets dicey as you need to make sure your name, job title and what the footage is to be used for clearly stated on the audio track. This is mainly a CYA tactic in case of the odd legal challenge.

      BTW, Jedichick, that’s one mighty fine avatar! Now be kind enough to lift my X-wing out of the swamp….

    • #184130

      x2 on not dwelling too long on individuals.

      (I presume you’re getting stock footage.)

    • #184131

      I would just pass along some advice my mother gave to me a long time ago, about writing:

      “Ask yourself if it would make them upset. If not, then you are probably OK.”

    • #184132

      These days, pretty much ANYTHING you say, write, videotape or record has the capacity for “usetting” somebody somewhere. There was a time, even I can remember, when this was not so. Sad to say, the day of getting by without setting somebody off about something is long gone.

      It isn’t even so much about “upsetting” somebody as it is the potential for getting someone on camera in general, much less talking, reacting or putting their hands over the lens offers just about anybody an incentive for dragging you into some kind of legal fray.

      Many, if not all, major commercial productions (with the possible exception of some news gathering, even then…) go above and beyond in CYA methods for not avoiding (virtually impossible) lawsuits over some king of perceived, or real, personal privacy/rights etc. infringment, but simply in an attempt to minimize the expenses involved, or delays incurred, or whatever else people come up with to file suit about.

    • #184133


      I hear ya’ man. It seems when people see the camera, they smell ‘money’. Litigation is a major pain in the backside and the only people who actually get paid are the lawyers. With all of this ‘electronic communication’ we have these days, instead of growing more tolerant of each other we get ‘bent’ easily over the slightest thing. As both a media professional and a human being I understand the right / desire of privacy and the right to perform one’s professional occupation. If you don’t want cameras on you to record a historical event, don’t make history. Yet, I do frown on both the persons who ‘put hands over lenses’ and those who intrude on personal space to be within arm’s reach. It’s a narrow line to balance on mind you, but unfortunately the responsibility of knowing the laws and restrictions falls primarily on those of us behind the camera.

    • #184134

      The only legalproblems you might get into is complaints from people that make an obvious appearance in your video. If you’re filming a parade, they know that they are being publicly displayed to everyone in the street.

      If there are too many shots of the audience orothers who are not part of the “public”, then you could run into legal issues.

      Or, you can “wash out” the non-public faces like most reality shows are known for.

    • #184135
      AvatarJennifer O’Rourke

      We’ve written a number of stories on this issue here in Videomaker. here’s a link to one in particular that addresses this subject:

      Basically, if you’re at a public event, and, as mentioned above, you don’t hold any one shot for any length of time, you’re going to be OK. Public means just that: They AND you are in public.

      However, if you are shooting inside their house from a public sidewalk, that’s not OK, obviously, and if it’s a stressful “breaking news” happening like a hostage situation or house on fire or something like that, and they happen to be standing around watching the “show” then you have to be careful.

      If you have been hired to shoot the event by the promoters, and aren’t just shooting for the fun of it, you can also have the parade announcers mention that this is being videotaped. But you’re completely in your legal rights to shoot this and use it however you wish if it’s for legal purposes.

      Do be careful how you videotape minors, however. (Meaning, if you take advantage of a public event that draws kids, but don’t show that event instead you just shoot close ups of children’s faces and post that to a site called “cute kids”, you are setting yourself up for trouble, regardless of how public the event.)

      Search Videomaker’s site using “what’s Legal” or “Mark Levy” for more.

    • #184136

      Being a performing artistmyself, I am often filming other performers who, by their very nature, perform outdoors in public places. While it’s not an event, per se, on any given day you can find said performers here in Boulder on the downtown mall. Of course, other people are in the shots. That’s why the performers are there. I’ve had the notion of “public places” and “no expectation of privacy” over that past 14 years.

      I once came upon a band of musicians on the mall that was being shot handheld by a woman. I set up my tripod behind her and kept her out of my shots. She thanked the band after their song was done then turned to see my setup. She freaked out then did the “hand over the lens” thing to me informing me I “can’t do that!”. (Ha ha…punks!). I was pretending to listen but really laughing my head offinside because I had already gotten my shots and the camera was off. I pointed out to Miss Clairol that tourists had also been videoing the band…not just me.I then asked her why she didn’t try to stop these other videographers. She replied it was because of my tripod. (?) I realized she was a goof and left.

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