Can I legally use this footage...?

vesonexdean's picture
Last seen: 4 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: 01/22/2014 - 6:15am

Hey guys, 


My company is doing a tour around the US, going to libraries and talking to kids about a new app. I'm the videographer so I'm filming most of the library visits, I'm a little fuzzy on the particulars because some people say you can use the footage some people can't, so if anyone is familiar with this situation please chime in. 


 Can I use the footage of the kids interacting with the app in future videos; probably a trailer to show other libraries what we're doing, a potential marketing video on a site down the road, etc...? 


Could I legally use that footage or should I have a waiver each time we do one of these events just to cover my tracks completely. 


Also we go to alot of conferences which are public places and the conference halls usually have their own media folks that walk around taking pictures, I'm assuming I don't need a release for conference but I'm wondering if that falls in the grey area as far as usable footage. 


If anyone has experience with this, please chime in, thanks alot guys! 



plnelson's picture
Last seen: 2 years 10 months ago
Joined: 11/17/2013 - 9:57pm

Could I legally use that footage or should I have a waiver each time we do one of these events just to cover my tracks completely.


I'm not a videographer but I am a photographer of many years experience doing newspaper, commercial and model/fine art photography for sale in galleries or online.   I wish people would stop using terms like "legal" or "illegal" to describe these topics.


Running a red light, not paying your taxes, robbing a bank, and lots of other things are illegal because there are specific statutes on the book, or specific regulations by government bodies (e.g., the IRS, FCC, etc) with the statutory authority to make those regulations.   I was a ham radio operator for many years -  I knew what frequencies and modes and transmitter power, etc I could use because it was all spelled out for me, so I knew I was legal. 


There are no laws saying when you must have a model release.  It is not "illegal" to take, or even publish, a picture or video of someone without a signed release.  So using words like "legal" and "illegal" don't really apply to things like model releases.   


Instead there are laws relating to trademarks, copyright, privacy, defamation, etc, that MAY be invoked by people who you shoot and having a model release or similar waiver might provide you with protection if it comes to that.    When I shoot nude models I always get a model release and two forms of ID.  When I shoot a news story for the local paper I never do.   But even the subjects of newspaper photos do occasionally sue both the paper AND the photographer.   A release does not prevent you from being sued, but it may reduce the chances.   So the need for a release is a judgement call; it's a not a matter of statute.


Finally, the best advice on this topic will come from an experienced attorney specializing in media and publishing.    Typically such attorneys are hard to find outside of large media markets.   Ordinary attorneys don't have the experience or background.





Justin Reto's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 01/10/2008 - 2:15am
Plus Member

The short answer is probably. There are lots of things that could happen, but just like walking across the street you look both ways and do what you gotta do. and by look both ways I just mean make sure your bases are covered such as releases, you shot the footage, you aren't running a smear campaign, the kids depicted aren't celebrities who spent millions of dollars to copyright their face/image... Again the short answer is probably, in most cases you will be fine, just remember to cover your bases.



trusso's picture
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: 09/21/2009 - 4:21pm

I would be on the safe side and have them sign a release. Actually. Their parent must sign it. You could contact each school and have the teachers get the release to the parents. Whoever signs the release, that is who you can use. No release? Blur them out in editing.

blightstrider's picture
Last seen: 4 years 1 week ago
Joined: 02/24/2014 - 1:37pm

When it comes to children I would absolutely get parents to sign releases.  If you're filming adults in a public place it's a little fuzzier but since it will be used for marketing I would want to be on the safe side.


For our government work we're required to have releases for everyone no matter what the circumstances.  But I know someone who has had shows nationally broadcast on PBS, who has never gotten a release and has never had any problems.