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Old April 21st, 2009, 09:25 AM   #1
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A Question of Legality [Photography]

I am working on a documentary called BORN, about being born and raised in a religious commune [I was] in Chicago.

I have quite a few photos at my disposal that feature many many people. I'd like to use these photos to illustrate what commune life was like. Can I use these photos or do I have to get the permission of everyone in the photo?

[My apologies if this has been discussed somewhere else, I looked around for a similar thread to no avail]

Jaime
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Old April 21st, 2009, 10:01 AM   #2
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I did a quick google search and this came up from USA Today:
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columni...tography_N.htm

Doesnt cover video, but the gist seems to be there. If in a public place (which that isnt) and they are uniquely identifiable - then yes. (So in your case, it would seem you would have to get some release from the folks in the photo if in private settings.) Just a starter...keep searching and see what you come up with. :)
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Old April 21st, 2009, 01:10 PM   #3
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I wonder if documentaries have special exceptions though. Think about Michael Moore walking into Walmart headquarters and talking crap about them selling ammunition...would walmart really have signed a release form for that? I've noticed other puzzling things like that when watching docs. I don't know the answer, but I wouldn't throw this pictures away just yet!
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Old April 21st, 2009, 10:37 PM   #4
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Depending on what your final product is going to be and what countries you are involved with, the more specialized legal advice you will need to be given by someone authorized and part of the secret society of lawyers and judges.

Issues pertaining to the enforcement of the laws of the secret society of lawyers and judges (SSOLAJ) always involves risk, and how much of it you are willing to take. When dealing with the hypocrisy and vagueness of the SSOLAJ one will always take great risks and one can never predict the outcome as modern lawyers and judges have corrupted the whole system.

Knowing what the precidents are only can help so much as they are overrulled all the time by various judges. Also if someone wants to sue you, they will sue you even if you are within the secret societys general guidelines for whatever law. You get to learn the precidents by having an official of the secret society (a lawyer) tell it to you, as they are the only ones authorized by the state to talk about the rules (laws) of the SSOLAJ to you.

No just anyone can give legal advice in certain countries without risking being charged themselves by agents of the SSOLAJ, that includes giving legal advice on internet forums if you are not an offical agent of the society. For this reason, you will not really get a proper response to this question on this forum as most people will not risk giving legal advice if they are not an agent of the SSOLAJ themselves. There are online agents of the society you can contact though if you cant afford most.

To avoid dealing with any of the possibilities relating to this there is a simple solution, just blur over recognizable faces. You will see this done on many shows. That really is the only failsafe solution, if there even is that kind of thing anymore when dealing with the SSOLAJ.
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Old April 22nd, 2009, 12:53 AM   #5
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For the videographers in UK Phil Bloom did a nice thread called Filming rights in the UK. A nice informative article there is also a small piece that you can print out and carry round with you for the awkward moments when somebody says Hey you Can't film here. Thanks to Phil and this small piece of paper you might be able to put them in thier place politely of course.

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Old April 22nd, 2009, 07:15 AM   #6
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You need to consult a lawyer or two to get any real cogent answers on this. As has been said, using your photos where faces are recognizable exposes you to the possibility of a lawsuit regardless of whether or not you are within your legal rights. It's up to you to determine how much exposure you are willing to assume. You can only make an informed decision on this once you've gotten some accurate legal advice.
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Old April 22nd, 2009, 08:30 AM   #7
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You could blur their faces. To be honest, I'm pretty sure you will need to do this, since you don't have their consent.
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Old April 25th, 2009, 05:12 AM   #8
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Since you said they are photos (i.e. stills), scan them into Photoshop and either blur or blackbar the faces. It isn't like you have to manually go in and blur each frame of video.

Martin
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Old May 30th, 2009, 02:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Timothy Wilson View Post
I wonder if documentaries have special exceptions though. Think about Michael Moore walking into Walmart headquarters and talking crap about them selling ammunition...would walmart really have signed a release form for that? I've noticed other puzzling things like that when watching docs. I don't know the answer, but I wouldn't throw this pictures away just yet!
2 points:

1. There's generally an exemption if what you're shooting is of significant public interest
2. Have you seen how many lawyers Michael Moore credits in his movies?. "Bowling for Columbine" specifically credits 4 of the crew as legal services. Quite likely there were others associated with the production.

Last edited by Nick Gordon; May 30th, 2009 at 02:27 AM. Reason: Punctuation. Grr!
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Old May 30th, 2009, 02:07 PM   #10
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1. Commercial appropriation of likeness laws vary from state to state. There is no simple answer to this. However, whenever photos are taken in a locale where the subject has an expectation of privacy, a release is required.

2. In addition to the release issue, there is a significant issue of copyright. Did you take the photos? If not, you'll have to obtain a license to use them.
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Old June 1st, 2009, 11:31 AM   #11
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What if an interviewee is wearing a shirt that has a likeness of someone famous on it? In this particular sitution, they were wearing a shirt that had a moviestar on it. The shirt has nothing to do with the subject at hand, but none the less they were wearing it during the interview. Any thoughts?
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Old June 1st, 2009, 11:43 AM   #12
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Yes. It is copyright infringement, without a license from the shirt manufacturer and/or the photographer (whoever withheld film rights). It also may be commercial appropriation of likeness, depending on the jurisdiction. I'd suggest doing a track matte and blurring out the likeness on the shirt.
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Old June 1st, 2009, 12:27 PM   #13
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Thanks Paul.
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Old June 2nd, 2009, 10:33 AM   #14
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I've been under the impression that if used as "editorial" you may not need a release. I think where it gets sticky is if you use those photos to promote or endorse a product of some sort.

I don't know if your intent is to sell this doc or what. Either way, I'd also try to find out and get permission from the original photographer for permission to use the photo(s) to avoid infringement.

As mentioned above, talking with a seasoned law professional would be your best bet, and then please report back here with your findings.

Jonathan
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Old June 3rd, 2009, 04:11 AM   #15
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Just to back up what others have said. You must talk to a lawyer. This is not an area that's subject to rational deduction.

Take the example of the t-shirt with celeb picture. Rationally, you'd be fine. After all, it's a pic of a guy/gal who agreed to have their pic on t-shirts, the t-shirts are sold to be worn in public, lots of people take pics/videos of t-shirts. Think holiday pics/movies, and all those pics and brand logos on people's gear.

But then start thinking like a lawyer. I could sell the image rights of the celeb for movie use, so if I let some nobody from nowhere use his/her image, even as a by-the-way, in a movie, I'm either devaluing the rights, or I'm not sticking to the contract I have with whomever I sold the rights to. So I have to act to protect the interest.

Of course, the reductio ad absurdum of this is that no-one may take photos or shoot movies in the public places without a licence, in case they capture a controlled image. But since much the intellectual property law community doesn't seem to have me the word 'absurd', it's not an impossible notion.

So talk to a lawyer, be safe. Or don't, and be a rebel :-)
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