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Taking Care of Business
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Old November 4th, 2003, 08:10 AM   #1
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People's Faces and Public Places

This is one of those confusing issues, at least to me.

I see all the time, video of/on sidewalks, streets and so on in a city. Of course there are people all over the place. Do you or do you not need a signed release for everyone whose face is recognizable? Even if the face is not shown what about the person's voice?

I would assume that different countries have different laws and therefore what I see on TV may or may not apply. I see shows like Trigger Happy TV, dealing with people in public places and odd events. Are we safe in the USA doing something similar? Does Candid Camera get signed releases for everyone in their clips?

I know there has been similar discussion in the past. I, however have not figured it out from previous threads.
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Old November 4th, 2003, 08:22 AM   #2
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If it's going to be released (broadcast, tape, DVD, web etc.) get a release for any recognizable image, unless you represent a recognized news organization.
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Old November 4th, 2003, 12:13 PM   #3
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So how do you get a release for 65 people crossing a street?
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Old November 6th, 2003, 10:47 AM   #4
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I see nobody wants to admit to this practice.
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Old November 6th, 2003, 10:50 AM   #5
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I don't shoot scenes with 65 recognizable people walking in front of my camera. I would rethink the scene and maybe shoot from a greater distance or cut it in edit so no ones face was recognizable.
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Old November 6th, 2003, 01:08 PM   #6
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John, to what end will your footage be used?
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Old November 6th, 2003, 01:31 PM   #7
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It could be just about anything. The very idea of all shows that broadcast people in public places get signed releases for any and all people whose Mom could recognize them is mind numbing.

I'm doing brainstorming/popcorn sessions on a concept. The overall concept in the general feel of the Trigger Happy TV the English do. It is just beyond comprehension that they get singed releases for all the people that walks by. The audience will be fairly small and specialized, so I doubt it will ever see mainstream broadcast, but who knows.


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Old November 6th, 2003, 03:04 PM   #8
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John,

It may be beyond comprehension... but try.

In FILMS everyone you see is pretty much a paid extra.

News broadcasts are covered under a seperate area of law.

If you must shoot in a public space, you can set up public notices to the effect that "Filming by xyz Company for the purpose of ABC production will take place in this area. By entering the area you concede the right to use your image...blah,blah,blah.

Go look these releases up in production guides.

These will NOT keep you from getting sued.

But then, nothing will really. You just have to assess your own exposure and risk aversion. Much like the stock market.

I am not a lawyer, you are not my client, etc. etc.

Paul may want to jump in at this point.

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Old November 6th, 2003, 03:55 PM   #9
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Paul may want to jump in at this point.
Richard, you've covered it quite well.
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Old November 6th, 2003, 04:35 PM   #10
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So Paul,
Are you saying that you got releases for all those people, with faces, in your Las Vegas and India videos?



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Old November 6th, 2003, 06:27 PM   #11
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I plan on doing some time lapse in the mall around x mas time. So if you cant make out their faces iam set?
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Old November 6th, 2003, 08:39 PM   #12
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Time lapses in the mall...

Another interesting area. The mall may not necessarily be a "Public" space. It might be viewed as a private space, in which case you would need permission form the mall owner to shoot there.
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Old November 6th, 2003, 09:22 PM   #13
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ehh iam gona do it any way there is the a ritz camera in there and if they say something i will just say i just bought this and i wanted to see if it will work. ( if i ever got my money back for a cam cause i got scammed)
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Old November 6th, 2003, 10:14 PM   #14
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Walking around the streets of DC I came upon them shooting "The District"... they had one little piece of the median taped off for their fake murder scene, and within that area they had a few extras and fake cops... outside of that, however, they had police tape and real police keeping people at a distance, but we were all very clearly in the shot. It was interesting, we were gawking at a TV production crew, but apparently that looks about the same as gawking at a murder scene. I'm sure faces were visible... recognizable? not sure...

They had signs up in a few places saying "If you are hanging out here then you consent to being shown" (not exactly the lingo). I have seen this type of thing before, but my best legal sources tell me this kind of "contract" could never be binding.

It is my understanding from my commercial photographer friends that as long as you are not showing people in a false, misleading or defamatory way then you are fine. There is no expectation of privacy when you are walking down the sidewalk, or looking in a window. If you film them looking in to a window and you make it seem like a strip club, then you have a problem.

I have seen other movies where I know they do this type of thing... I remember seeing a thing about a Dustin Hoffman film (I forget the one) where he is crossing the street talking to someone... he shares some terse words with the cabby and goes on. The director said it was an accident... a real cabby got in the way, but Hoffman had been so happy with the take he just stayed in character and went with it.... hmmm ... did they chase him down and get a release?..... who knows...


Good luck.

PS - the shear volume of equipment they had for the District shot was amazing... the crane, the steadicam, the warbdrobe, the film loaders, the lights.... it just didn't end....
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Old November 7th, 2003, 12:15 AM   #15
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Sogo Ishii made a suspense horror film about women who were killed in the middle of crowds. He didn't bother warning real crowds that actresses were suddenly going to keel over in the middle of them.
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