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Old June 9th, 2010, 10:37 PM   #1
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Is a documentary, editorial?

Ok, I have read several posts about getting releases.
As a photojournalist, I know that I do not need a release for editorial work.

So my question is, isn't a documentary film also an editorial film/piece and thus fall under the editorial release rights?
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Old June 10th, 2010, 04:13 AM   #2
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I would make sure you get professional legal advice on that before you bypass release forms. I know there are situations where documentaries can walk the fine line and be classified as 'news' or 'editorial' but I would not want ot do this personally. Better to be safe than sorry.
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Old June 17th, 2010, 08:40 AM   #3
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Documentaries for the sake of being documentaries don't fall automatically under an editorial work classification. Follow the advice of talking to specialized lawyers and this will save you potential headaches.
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Old June 17th, 2010, 09:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Sgaraglino View Post
Ok, I have read several posts about getting releases.
As a photojournalist, I know that I do not need a release for editorial work.

So my question is, isn't a documentary film also an editorial film/piece and thus fall under the editorial release rights?
Your answer is "it all depends".
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Old June 18th, 2010, 02:21 PM   #5
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A documentary on the current BP oil spill would likely be editorial. One on the Exxon Valdez oil spill probably would not be.
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Old June 19th, 2010, 04:34 PM   #6
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Besides the actual legal issues, often big companies will sue the little guy even when you are legally correct. They know that they can afford legal fee's while you may not. Usually to force a cease and desist.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 10:25 AM   #7
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Most of the PBS outlets in the midwest with whom I have worked are fine with a videotaped "release." Just ask your interviewees, on camera, to state their name and ask them "Is it OK to use this video footage however we wish?" That's usually sufficient and saves time and hassle of dealing with signed paper releases.

Also, you do NOT need a release for public figures in a public place. You should not need a release for a politician speaking at a press conference or at a campaign event, for example. Their whole purpose in being there is to field questions from media or the public. On the other hand, I always make sure I have releases signed by a parent or guardian before using any interviews with kids.

Everyone will tell you "go see a lawyer everytime," but that's not always practical (or for those of us who work independently, affordable).
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 01:15 PM   #8
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I think the videotaped release is fine for most projects but there's important exceptions. First minors can't give their assent. That can only be done by a parent or guardian. Second, a model's assent to be recorded only protects you in a fairly narrow context. Any time you use the recording in such a way that the person may feel they may incur scorn, derision or loss of income they may well succeed in an action against you. The good thing about paper is it can indemnify you in addition to the narrow question of whether they've given permission to use their likeness.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 05:15 PM   #9
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An entertainment lawyer told me that a videotaped release is no where as solid as a signed release.
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Old June 24th, 2010, 12:18 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Denny Lajeunesse View Post
An entertainment lawyer told me that a videotaped release is no where as solid as a signed release.
Then again, both is better. Because the release may not be notarized and someone could claim it's not their signature. That's why the release should also have some contact info on there as well.
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