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- January 26, 2018 at 10:04 AM #96693mlittyMember
Does anyone have a good system for tracking release forms with video clips that span several projects over time?
I'm a videographer for a university. Part of my responsibilities are collecting and organizing a library of clips that we can use for various video projects. Up until now, we have not concerned ourselves with getting release forms from university students, faculty, and staff when shooting for university marketing videos.
Recently, last week, the creative department was told that we need to have release forms for photos and video clips we shoot. Not every single shot but generall speaking, any shot where individuals are easilly identifyable or prominent. For example, last night I shot a graduate level class for student/faculty interaction and I had the whole class sign release forms. Just from last night's shoot, I have over 30 clips of roughly fifteen students with various mixtures of students in each clip. I'll use those clips on several projects over the next few weeks and probably several more over the next year.
The forms won't be tied to a particular project and there are multiple forms for various clips so I can't put, for example, students' names in the filename of the clip. The forms are physical, so I can't dump them in the folder on the hard drive with the clips.
If Jane Doe challenges the use of her image in a marketing video, how can I track release forms so that I can go back through the archive/project and find the form that goes with the complaint?
I would tie the shoot name to the release files. For example: "Shoot name=Grad level student/faculty interact. 1/24/2018." This would be on a clap board or cardboard, shot at the beginning of the shoot so it becomes a permanent part of the video. Store all the clips from this shoot on your computer in one folder or on a data DVD.
Collect all the release forms, scan them and put them into a folder on the computer called "Grad level student/faculty, etc." Linking the two when you need to use a video clip from the Grad level shoot shouldn't be difficult. After scanning, store the release forms in a filing cabinate if its necessary to keep them.
If Jane Doe challenges the use of her image you need only look to where the clip came from and check the appropriate release form folder on your computer.
One procedure that can reduce the record keeping considerably is to ask all the students who do not want their image recorded to sit together in a part of the room that you can avoid while shooting. You should also announce to the class that they are about to be recorded on video and that anyone who doesn't want their image recorded should move to this safe area. Make this announcement with the camera running so there can be no debate at a later date.
The biggest problem, as I see it, is that you're going to be constantly looking over your shoulder; i.e., you'll always be wondering "Is this student who's picture I'm about to use actually represented by a release form?" And there may be no way to confirm or avoid this, given that you're taping in a very public environment with a constant ebb and flow of students, faculty and staff. You can only do your best.
Given the variety of uses to which you propose using this video material I would certainly want my legal department involved in drawing up the release form, and I'd want solid answers to questions such as whether you need releases from students incidently recorded while passing from one class to another, for example, or incidently recorded at a sporting event. How public are public places at the institution and to what degree does an expectation of privacy exist? The legal aspects of all of this are not trivial.
Super with a huge department, but don't universities and colleges have this covered in their learning agreements? My old college certainly did. Granting the college Corporation the right to use images collected during college activities. It also 'collected' the rights to any staff and student creations that were created as part of their course or work. This started when video evidence became essential for accurate grading and verification. The only exceptions were when a student has a protection order in force where their likeness was protected by the courts. This just meant blobbing a few faces out. How on earth will you cope with any big event – theatre, music, sports, etc? Release forms are fine for the public, but students???? Sounds like someboidy has misunderstood the requirements here. It isn't just the 30 release forms, it's what happens with one person who says no when asked. A folder of clips all cleared is one thing, but how about an edit in 4 years time when none of the staff can identify which person is John Smith who said NO! You have a mamoth clerical headache in the making. With 30 people – how do you actually identify them for the records. You are bound to end up with 31 identifiable faces and only 30 names and this will wreck your system. Management of this could well end up as a full time job for multiple people if it is to be accurate and efficient.
It could be simpler to have a database of all students, faculty and staff and get them to annually confirm their OK sto be in video/stills status, then make a list of those who say no – and then just concentrate on not having them in shots you take? That might be maneageable. You'd probably have their ID photograph on the system, so could have a much shorter list of 'do not shoot' rather than a filing cabinet of OK to shoot for each clip session.
Paulears: not sure how this would work. My university had 38,000 students and several thousand faculty and staff. As I pointed out above, I believe there are two issues/situations in play here. First is going into a classroom — perhaps as few as 6-8 students in a seminar, as many as several hundred in a large lecture class — and announcing that you are going to tape the class session; two cameras perhaps, one on the faculty instructor the other on students in the room. The solution at our university was to ask students who didn't want their image captured to move to one side of the room. We never shot this area. Everyone who agreed to be in the shoot signed a release. There was never any worry: we knew that in any video we shot we had release forms from every person whose image was recorded. Subsequent use of the footage did not require pulling up release forms; we already knew that if we had the footage we had received permission to use it.
The second situation would be when shooting the campus at class change, a sporting event, students in the coffee shop, etc. I believe, since there is no expectation of privacy in situations such as this that no release is required. Determining precisely how this played out would require legal advice.
It's the release forms that concerned me. Thousands of students = huge numbers of forms, each to be collated, and recorded, then filed for finding later. When I was in education we recorded off-air TV programmes, when it came to computerisation of the card indexes, it became a full time role for one technician. How long does it take to process the releases? Probably longer than the time spent recording!
Looking at my own educsation background – no way could we have coped with this, the department was stretched already. In my management role over 10 weeks over nov-jan, I collected so much signed paperwork for all manner of things. I piut the lot in a huge box, and at the end taped it shut and sent iot to stores. If there is ever a query, then somebody else will have to sort through them. I had no time in my schedule to organise this. In a busy uni where people don't even know names, it's crazy. Adding in a blanket aproval to their initial signing up process seems mega simple – leaving you with a much smaller list of 'nos' – and you could easily add a small red dot to their ID badges signifiying somebody who mustn't be included in photos or video. Easy to manage too.
This is quite a challenge, I agree. And I completely agree with you regarding the hundreds of pounds of paper a hard-copy system would generate. And the though of having to cull through paperwork and video to attempt to match people in the shot with releases is daunting if not impossible.
It seems to me the only practical way to deal with this is to link each shoot with the accompanying releases. E.g., we shoot a class in biology; title it Bio101-1/30/18. We collect releases from everyone in that class; after the shoot we scan the releases into a folder on our computer called Bio101-1/30/18 and throw away the hard copy or, if Legal requires it, put the hard copy away in a file cabinet and forget about it.
We're now free to use clips from the Bio101-1/30/18 shoot as we see fit. Should a student complain that his/her image is being used without permission it's a simple matter to retrieve the Bio101-1/30/18 folder and show him/her the signed release. Locating the release if class and date has been forgotten by the student requires only using the computer's search function to find the student's name.
Such a system would give the videographer an unfettered ability to use any material he had shot. He knows he has a release form for every bit of classroom footage. If challenged he can produce the metadata on the footage and, if necessary, call up the appropriate release folder from the data base.
The problem with the idea of a global release — i.e., a release signed by every student upon admission to the uinversity — is that there are potentially hundreds of students who might object on religious or social grounds to having their image available for use. Trying to keep track of them when shooting would be all ut impossible. That's why I believe the permission must be granted on a shoot by shoot basis.
I do hope that the Original Poster -Mlitty — will let us know how he has delt with this problem. It's challenging and, as a former University professor and administrator who spent most of his professional life working with imaging and imaging issues I will be very interested to learn how this problem is resolved.