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Old February 11th, 2008, 03:16 AM   #1
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Making money off public sporting events

Okay. I know a bit about media law, but I don't know the exact answer to this question.

Here's the scenario. A news agency covers a public event, a basketball game, and broadcasts some clips, on TV and the web. Let's say the videographer got the entire game.

After the airing, some parents want copies of the game.

Obviously, news agencies don't get release forms. Their news status covers them from that. But does that allow them to sell the video?

If it can be sold, is the news agency under any obligation to inform the purchaser that they have no right to broadcast rights. Or does the new buyer have the rights. Afterall, the news agency had the right to broadcast any part of it?

And what if a private videographer (not affiliated with any news agency) choses to tape a public event, like a football game, in hopes that parents will come asking for copies. Is that okay. Does he or she have a right to sell the video with broadcasting rights? Does it even matter?

I know there are many out there that hold to the beliefe that you have to have a release for everything. But that isn't the case with news, documentaries and some grey areas between documentaries and films.

Personally, I think if it's an event open to the public, and video taping is allowed (like a high school football game), then I should be able to sell copies of what I shot, as long as the buyer understands that this is for private use, not to be broadcast, unless they are a news agencies and need the video for a directly related news story.

That's what I think. What do you think?

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Old February 11th, 2008, 05:02 AM   #2
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An event that is open to the public IF they pay the price of admission is not a "public event." It is a private event that the public may attend if they meet certain conditions. A truly public event would be something like a busker performing on a street corner, visible to any and all casual passers-by. In terms of using the footage you acquire at the game, it's very unlikely it would be considered filmed in a public place. Remember the notices during the programs to the effect that the broadcasts of professional football and baseball games cannot be used for anything without the express permission of Major League xxxxx? In terms of use of video, a high school game would be no more a public event than is an NFL game AFAIK.

News coverage is something distinct from other possible uses of the same video. For example, the station would not be able to sell their footage of the game to be used in an ad based on the claim "Winning teams only use Wilson footballs!" without further clearances etc.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 09:23 AM   #3
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The fact that there is any doubt at all should compel you to seek professional legal advice.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 09:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfred Diaz View Post
A news agency covers a public event, a basketball game...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfred Diaz View Post
And what if a private videographer... choses to tape a public event, like a football game...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfred Diaz View Post
...if it's an event open to the public... (like a high school football game)...
Hold on.

It's important to understand that these are NOT public events.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 04:26 PM   #5
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It might depend on the circumstances:
- public school;
- no admission charge;
- taking place at a public (i.e., taxpayer-owned) facility
- open to the general public (i.e., audience not restricted to parents of athletes, etc.)
Could (but not necessarily) be considered a public event.

On the other hand,
- private school or
- admission charge or
- private facility or
- restricted audience
Could be considered a private event.

Each school district may have different rules about this. I'd check with the school superintendent.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 04:50 PM   #6
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I don't think you guys are right about what constitutes public and private events. A high school football game is at a public stadium. School districts are public entities. Futhermore, in the news business, a high school can't tell a news person they can't be there with their camera if (1) the event is open to the general public (2) other people are allowed to use cameras. You can't single out news people. I was in the business for 5 years, and I had to use this fact a couple time with police officers who were trying to keep a camera out while letting other people in. I don't think the fact that paying for an event makes it private. What really matters is who is holding the event (private or public entity), where they are holding the event (private or public space) and what is the event (political caucus or rock concert).

But really, what I am more interested in is the right to make money off somebody elses image. Here is a real life scenario:

My daughter is performing with her highschool band in the park. I am there with my professional gear, and I get the event. Other parents come up to me and ask me if I can sell them a copy when I am done. Gladly, but the fact is I captured a lot of faces during the event. And now I am making money off all those images. So is that legal. And how far can I take it. I understand that I can't use the image to promote a product, like a brand of instruments. But can I mass produce? Can I sell it as stock footage? And if so, what are the limits for the buyer?

That is why I was wondering if I am selling it with the stipulation that it is for personal use, not to be aired or streamed, is that good enough.

Really, I think I need to research my media law more. I can tell you what's allowed when collecting news, but this is different. It's not news, but not 100 percent commercial either. It's somewhere in between. And in some cases, the video may even have been collected originally as a news project.

Links to sites addressing this exact subject are welcome.

Thank you.

Alfred
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Old February 11th, 2008, 05:01 PM   #7
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Alfred, your allowed to bring a camera. your allowed to film your child. what you are not allowed to do is sell it without signed releases. you need a signed location release, as well as releases from everyone spotlighted in the video, IE: all the players. If there is any music in the background, you would also need signed permission from the copyright holder. If the school hires you to film, and allows you to sell, you would probably only need permission from the school, as they normally have rights to film students.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 05:55 PM   #8
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Alfred, I think you should think of it as anything that is not explicitly permitted is forbidden. News gathering is explicitly spelled out as permitted usage in the laws governing use of images but other uses are not. Even footage shot for the purpose of news coverage can't be re-purposed to other uses later.

As for whether a high school game is public, ask yourself if they can legally keep you from watching the game if you haven't bought a ticket. If the answer is yes, it's a private venue. If it's on a public street or in the open in a public park and anyone can drop in to watch, then it probably would be a public event. But knowing exactly what disitinguishes public from private and what applies to what is exactly why we have lawyers. I'm simply answering based on general knowledge of business law and I think the same rules would apply as apply to restaurants and theatres where they are private venues even though they are open to the public. By your reasoning, only a closed private club would be considered a private venue.
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Old February 14th, 2008, 02:55 PM   #9
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Contact the school hosting the game

I know you used football as an example, but I've been involved with similar activities in high school athletics and I may be able to share what I know.


If you want to set up and tape the game and try to sell copies to parents, get in touch with the school. They'll let you know what the required paper work is and what you can or can't do. A few things you should know about high school football:

1- The team will have a dedicated "video guy". This guy is usually a volunteer, but is sometimes a hired gun who will likely have exclusive commercial rights to the home games. They usually have a contract that states no one else besides ESPN can film their home games for profit. You should try to be the "official videographer" for the team as you'll fall under their legalistic umbrella of protection. I may be that guy this year for a school up the road, so I'll get to learn a little more about the legal issues involved.

2- In Georgia, there are some quirky laws about filming football games specifically that try to stop New England Patriot style "video cheating". One by-law is that unless you are a news organization or one of the team official videographers, you must have a family member playing in the game. How they'll prove that when you walk in, I don't know. In the Georgia High School by-laws, "broadcasting" covers any taping of activites with commercial intent regardless if they are to be "on-air" or straight to tape.

Just to get an idea of how Georgia treats it, check out items 2.77 and 2.80 of the following document.

http://www.ghsa.net/files/documents/..._2006-2007.pdf

3- Get a contract with the school that is hosting the game. The other team doesn't matter if it's not in their place.



What about talent release forms for everyone involved?
Good luck with that one. No one is going to ever get permission from everyone involved in this situation. It's impossible. Professional sports have disclaimers on the back of the ticket that cover the big boys. You can set up signs at the entrance gate that state "filming is taking place and your entrance is giving permission to use your image", but that's not good enough nor protects you, but it may turn away those that would be upset with their image on camera.

So, how do folks tape these events and sell copies and get everyone in attendance to give permission to use their image? They don't and they don't get permission to use the music that comes over the PA system either. They're ruthless felons, I tell ya.

Yes, they have violated many laws and would lose in court. That's one reason of many that professionals avoid high school sports and anything involving a crowd for that matter. Another big reason is no one wants to buy the DVD. If you shoot with the realization that you just might lose everything you own in court, you'll be more prepared for the consequences. How many people in the crowd are going to see you and realize they can take you to court and garnish all of your wages for not getting their permission? I don't know, but all it takes is one jackleg to put you in the unemployment line.

One thing you'll learn on this site is that everything is illegal outside of a movie/television studio and news/journalism broadcast or by spending $10,000 on various usage rights for $300 in sales.

I say that because this board is full of experts that know their stuff and don't let anything slide for good reason.
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Old February 14th, 2008, 05:43 PM   #10
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One thing you'll learn on this site is that everything is illegal outside of a movie/television studio and news/journalism broadcast or by spending $10,000 on various usage rights for $300 in sales.

I say that because this board is full of experts that know their stuff and don't let anything slide for good reason.
That's not really true, or fair (unless I misunderstand your meaning). It's not that everything is illegal outside of a movie studio or television studio, etc, and we're not all a bunch of nay-sayers or lackies of the 'system.' It's that everyone from CBS and Warner Brothers down to Joe Weddingshooter operates under the same legal system and we all have to abide by the same rules. The process for us to license a pop song for the theme for our indy production or to get releases and right sell "Highlights of High School Football" is exactly the same for us as it is for Speilberg to license the song for his next blockbuster or CBS Sports to sell a game highlights reel. True, the networks and studios have the staff lawyers to make it easier and cheaper per case for them than it is for us mere mortals. So of course the Golden Rule does apply - them that has most of the gold get's to make the rules.

If it seems like some of us are sticklers for the rules, that doesn't always mean we AGREE with the rules, it's more trying to educate people on the rules in order to help them stay out of trouble. In matters of legality, you have to deal with the law the way it is, not the way you think it ought to be. Almost every creative workaround someone proposes has been tried before to the detriment of the person trying it.
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Last edited by Steve House; February 14th, 2008 at 08:44 PM.
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Old February 15th, 2008, 07:37 AM   #11
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Steve, my sentiment was lost in translation

You said it better than I did. I was trying to say that this board is full of experts like yourself that know the legalities and the work-arounds. I have been helped here many times. Like most everyone here, no, I don't agree that it makes any sense at all that I should have to pay the same amount as any movie producer for the rights to use a song when they'll be moving 1 million units and I'll be selling 10 DVDs, but that's how it goes and has been discussed here in hundreds of threads.

The answers I've been given here have helped me greatly and forced creative solutions. I use local musicians now and have found work-arounds for other areas. The biggest change was using local musicians and bands. You know, because the chances that either of us will ever make a living of off music or film or video are small, but we get to "share the dream" for a minute.

I could tell that the original poster was a little irritated with the facts of the law, but it is what it is. The laws weren't written to stop small time operators, but we unfortunately fall under their limitations.

The problem with typed media is that you can't see a person's facial expressions or hear their tone of voice. I see where my previous post seems incendiary, but I was trying to commend the information on the board.

Alfred, listen to what these guys are saying. There are a lot of folks on here that have produced or been involved in major projects.
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Old February 15th, 2008, 11:08 PM   #12
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OK, a related question then. I'm planning on collecting video footage at a public ski resort. The footage will be used to produce insturctional DVD's to sell to the public. No person other than the talant I provide will be dispayed in the video footage. Do I need written permission from the ski resort to do this?
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Old February 15th, 2008, 11:12 PM   #13
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yes, you would need a location release, and permission to film there.
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Old February 16th, 2008, 11:31 AM   #14
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Thank you, Alan. I just did a google search and found this. http://www.bestfestsandiego.com/LOCA...easePermit.PDF
Seems rather "over kill" and afraid it could scare the resort off by it's complexity. And would rather not have to pay them for the privilege. Any thoughts?
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Old February 16th, 2008, 12:36 PM   #15
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The wording might seem severe, but if you consider the worst that could happen while you are filming on someone's property, or what could arise from it, it starts to make sense.

For filming at a ski resort where accidents can and do occur, it's in your best interests to have not just releases on file but more importantly an appropriate business insurance policy. I imagine the resort would be more concerned about liability than anything else.

As far as paying the resort, that may not be necessary if you are willing to give them "product placement" and advertise their brand in some way. Since you would be getting a place to shoot your video, they should be getting some form of consideration as well.
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