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Old July 22nd, 2009, 03:43 PM   #1
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Conference Footage (legal question)

Hi all,

I have a conference coming up in a short time, and I will be working there. The end result is some video segments uploaded online and other segments on DVD (both are commercial). I have a question or two. Basically, I will be conducting individual interviews with exhibitors and attendees. I have gone through the process to get Press Passes, so the conference organizers have given me the right to film.

Seeing as how I am there wearing my Press Pass, etc... should I still bring a handful of release notices and have every person I interview sign them? I'm going solo, and planning on talking to lots of people over 4 days, is getting hundreds of releases signed what most do in this situation? Lastly, when I do room and crowd shots, what are the issues there?

This is a new project for me, so I apologize if these are fundamental questions.

Thanks.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 07:09 PM   #2
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I've done lots and lots of seminars, trade shows and conferences and have never had a release signed. However what most producers of these shows/seminars do is place sgns at the sign in desk or include a sheet with the paperwork that the event will be video taped and some will be put on line (generally intranet for company purposes) and they are giving permission to place their images on line and on DVD for commerical purposes.
I would however keep spme releases around just in case you run into the occassional party pooper who feels it's fun and necessary to harass the cameraman. Pull out a release and if they don't want to sign pass on them. OR state in your contract with the people putting on the show that as a vendor you are not held liable for anyone that appears in the video so IF that 1 jerk decides to sue you at least have that. Honestly though in all the shows I've done I've never had a problem but better to be ready just in case.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 05:12 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Dale Peterson View Post
Hi all,

I have a conference coming up in a short time, and I will be working there. The end result is some video segments uploaded online and other segments on DVD (both are commercial). I have a question or two. Basically, I will be conducting individual interviews with exhibitors and attendees. I have gone through the process to get Press Passes, so the conference organizers have given me the right to film.

Seeing as how I am there wearing my Press Pass, etc... should I still bring a handful of release notices and have every person I interview sign them? I'm going solo, and planning on talking to lots of people over 4 days, is getting hundreds of releases signed what most do in this situation? Lastly, when I do room and crowd shots, what are the issues there?

This is a new project for me, so I apologize if these are fundamental questions.

Thanks.
How about before starting the actual interview, ask them on-camera for permission to use the interview and record their consent. Edit out in post but you have their verbal release on the original footage should an issue ever arise.
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Old August 9th, 2009, 09:57 PM   #4
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You need what's called a "Crowd Release" form, which should be posted at the entrance to the venue or at the table where attendees sign in. You can use Google to find samples, which are all over the internet, but the following are a few examples of the text that is usually used for these. The second is one I've used many times (a little friendlier than the first), which you can adjust to suit your needs. Even if you use a crowd release, you can also cover your butt by asking them to look directly at the camera and to state and spell their names (good to do all the time anyway), and to say, "I give you permission to videotape me for your project." I always feel that the on-camera statement is not enough, so I usually make sure that I have a number of crowd releases posted where everyone can see them. Of course, always make sure you ask for permission from the organizers or venue before hanging the releases, and bring your own means to hang them (tape, tacks, etc.). Make sure they know that attendees need to see the release before entering the venue.

Here are two sample crowd releases:

#1:

By entering and by your presence here, you consent to be photographed, filmed and/or otherwise recorded. Your entry constitutes your consent to such photography, filming and/or recording and to any use, in any and all media throughout the universe in perpetuity, of your appearance, voice and name for any purpose whatsoever in connection with the production presently entitled: ___________.

You understand that all photography, filming and/or recording will be done in reliance on this consent given by you by entering this area.

If you do not agree to the foregoing, please do not enter this area.

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#2:

Tonight's performance will be videotaped as part of a documentary. Some audience members may be recognizable in the video.

Your presence in the audience grants consent to the filmmaker and camera crew to record your likeness and appearance at this performance and to use your image in the video and/or in marketing materials for the video without compensation to you, and releases the filmmaker/videographer from all liability related to the videotaping of your presence in this venue.

If you object to appearing in the video, please notify the cameraperson BEFORE the performance begins and all attempts will be made to exclude or blur your image in the resulting documentary, though cannot be guaranteed.

Enjoy the show!

---------------------------
Note:
On the second one, you can omit that last paragraph about making efforts to blur their faces. That would be a total PITA, and most people want their 15 minutes of fame so it would be doubtful if you really needed to say that. If someone doesn't want to be in the video, they can just turn away or avoid you.

A way to adjust it to your needs would be to change the first paragraph to:
"Today's conference will be recorded for a promotional video. Some attendees may be recognizable in the video."

Hope this helps!
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Old August 11th, 2009, 02:51 PM   #5
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"How about before starting the actual interview, ask them on-camera for permission to use the interview and record their consent. Edit out in post but you have their verbal release on the original footage should an issue ever arise."

On the same note, record an image of the 'Crowd Release' form at the entrance with the crowd in the background.

I read where Robert Rodriguez used some sort of sign like that when filming 'El Mariachi' on the streets in Mexico.

Last edited by Bill Thesken; August 12th, 2009 at 04:38 AM.
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Old August 20th, 2009, 11:39 PM   #6
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How do you get a Press pass?

I film live events for a company who hosts them. Usually they involve large crowds of people in public places with lots of minors. Is the taping of minors an issue (assuming no nudity or anything "intimate" is taking place)? If I do a pan of an event, and I happen to get hundreds of people in the shot, many of whom happen to be minors, am I legally required to get releases?
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Old August 21st, 2009, 06:31 AM   #7
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I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV but I have to say that in the hundreds and hundreds of seminar type events including public events, I have done over the years taping all kinds of people, I have never been asked nor questioned about a release. Many of the show producers today put notices up for public viewing that the show and people attending could be videotaped and that taped used for promotion or training purposes but many if not most don't. I have never heard of anyone being put into a bad position legally wise if they were taping the show.
Up to you, check with a lawyer or not, for me, I just keep on shooting. Let the promoters/producer worry abouut it-I'm a vendor there to do a job.
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Old August 21st, 2009, 08:07 AM   #8
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I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV but I have to say that in the hundreds and hundreds of seminar type events including public events, I have done over the years taping all kinds of people, I have never been asked nor questioned about a release. Many of the show producers today put notices up for public viewing that the show and people attending could be videotaped and that taped used for promotion or training purposes but many if not most don't. I have never heard of anyone being put into a bad position legally wise if they were taping the show.
Up to you, check with a lawyer or not, for me, I just keep on shooting. Let the promoters/producer worry abouut it-I'm a vendor there to do a job.
If you turn over the raw footage to your client at the end of the day you shouldn't have to worry. But if you turn the footage into the final program, then you're the author/producer and you are the one ultimately going to be held responsible for insuring every legal "t" is crossed and "i" dotted should the balloon go up. You might get the client to sign an agreement endemnifying you in the event of lawsuits but if lawsuits are filed, they'll be filed against you, the producer of the program.
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Old August 21st, 2009, 10:53 AM   #9
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Steve,
you're right about the producer part but I make sure my contract reads that the promoter or show producer is in fact responsible and that I am a vendor. My lawyer wrote the clause so if there's a problem, I go to HIM! ;-)

Guess the job ain't over til the paperwork is done.
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Old August 21st, 2009, 11:36 AM   #10
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Steve,
you're right about the producer part but I make sure my contract reads that the promoter or show producer is in fact responsible and that I am a vendor. My lawyer wrote the clause so if there's a problem, I go to HIM! ;-)

Guess the job ain't over til the paperwork is done.
You'll still be the one to be sued for such things as privacy violations, copyright infringment, etc. As the producer of the piece you and you alone are legally responsible for its content in its entirety and arguing "my client agreed to assume the responsibility for obtaining releases " won't get you off the hook in court. As a vendor you are selling a finished product and it up to you to insure it's a legal product for you to sell. By spelling out that you are a vendor of video programs, IMHO it actually makes you MORE liable, not less, as it precludes you from now arguing "I was just a hired technician shooting pictures under his directions and am not responsible for the content." You're either a camera operator who points his camera where he's told, sets the exposure and focus and pulls the trigger, or you are a creative professional in the business of making and selling video programs ... you can't have it both ways. All your agreement really does is allow you to go and try to recover from your client if you are sued and lose.
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Old August 21st, 2009, 12:17 PM   #11
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Steve -
Anyone can sue anyone for anything (civil liability), so technically you're correct, HOWEVER...
an indemnity clause is enforceable, and creating a work for hire isn't an "illegal" act (statutory liability), as you continually try to argue.

Let's simplify this: You're a concrete vendor... if you're hired to pour a concrete foundation and the contractor says the permits are pulled and in order, you going to tell me that you're going to ask to "see his papers"?? NO, you go to the jobsite, pour the foundation, and collect your pay.

If a vendor is told the party has the legal stuff in order, and has it in the contract that it's the responsibility of the party contracting the services, it's a pretty solid affirmative defense, and while not a guarantee, it should protect the vendor.

It's not like you're being hired to kill someone (obviously an illegal act), you're shooting a presumably public or private "event" at the request of the holder/organizer of that event - why would ANY reasonable vendor ask if that event holder had his "ducks in a row"? I'll agree it "might" be advisable to ask, but to make one liable if they don't (or are told and document that it's not a problem) is a stretch, and an indemnity clause is a good and traditional way to avoid unforseen liabilities when being hired to do a job.

Your peculiar interest in criminalizing video or creating phantom liabilities clouds your arguments. Video'ing is not a crime...
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Old August 21st, 2009, 02:44 PM   #12
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Steve -
Anyone can sue anyone for anything (civil liability), so technically you're correct, HOWEVER...
an indemnity clause is enforceable, and creating a work for hire isn't an "illegal" act (statutory liability), as you continually try to argue.

Let's simplify this: You're a concrete vendor... if you're hired to pour a concrete foundation and the contractor says the permits are pulled and in order, you going to tell me that you're going to ask to "see his papers"?? NO, you go to the jobsite, pour the foundation, and collect your pay.

If a vendor is told the party has the legal stuff in order, and has it in the contract that it's the responsibility of the party contracting the services, it's a pretty solid affirmative defense, and while not a guarantee, it should protect the vendor.

It's not like you're being hired to kill someone (obviously an illegal act), you're shooting a presumably public or private "event" at the request of the holder/organizer of that event - why would ANY reasonable vendor ask if that event holder had his "ducks in a row"? I'll agree it "might" be advisable to ask, but to make one liable if they don't (or are told and document that it's not a problem) is a stretch, and an indemnity clause is a good and traditional way to avoid unforseen liabilities when being hired to do a job.

Your peculiar interest in criminalizing video or creating phantom liabilities clouds your arguments. Video'ing is not a crime...
I have never said video'ing was a crime nor did I say that creating a work for hire is an illegal act. I do maintain that people need to accept full responsibility for their actions. If they claim to be professionals and charge others for their work, even the smallest and most casual of operators are playing in the same ballpark and under the same rules as CBS or Sony. If they're working in a certain business they need to insure they educate themselves on all the aspects of running such a business professionally, and take pains to make sure their legal ducks are in a nice tidy row.

"Work for Hire" is not automatic except where the person creating the work is an bona fide employee of the person causing the work to be made and is acting within the scope of their regular job duties. You seem to be of the belief that anyone who is paid by a client to shoot video is making a work for hire and that is simply not even remotely true. Your contract has to explicitly state that the work produced is a work for hire using the exact words "work for hire" or "Work made for hire" for it to be so. At any rate, your raising the issue of "work made for hire" is a red herring - that deals with ownership of copyrights, not liability for doing a job properly. While an indemnity clause may give you some recourse when your reliance on your client's assurance he has secured all necessary releases, clearances, permits, or licenses causes you loss, the ultimate liability for insuring compliance with all of those items still remains with you, the producer. Your client is not your employer where you can pass the buck - he is just a customer and has no liability for your actions. Should an aggrieved party seek compensation, their course of action will be against you, not your client regardless of any indemnity clause in your contract with him. Should you try to divert it to your client by virtue of that contract, the court will say no, you are the one liable for any damages and that in turn you must sue your client to recover based on his indeminification. You're the one on the spot and you'll have to hope you can prevail when you turn around and sue your client to enforce your indemnity clause.

Your concrete vendor example is a completely different situation. It is not the duty of the supplier of a commodity or of parts to insure they are used correctly. But a videographer hired to record an event and then turn the raw recording into a finished program about the event is not merely the supplier of a commodty. His position is more akin to the contractor who has ordered the foundation as part of the construction project. The client is more like the homeowner who has hired the contractor. The contractor knows it's his job to obtain the permits but instead relies on the homeowner's word that they've been obtained. The concrete vendor doesn't need to check to see if the permits have been issued but the contractor damned well better check and not just take the homeowner's word on it, his license may be on the line and his reliance on the homeowner's assurances won't protect him if they haven't been. If you are hired to shoot the event and you hire someone else to provide "B" cam coverage, the guy you hire is in a similar position to your aformentioned concrete vendor and he's not responsible for the releases but you as the program producer are.

I might add too that indemnity clauses in engagement contracts for photographers and videographers most commonly work the other way around, with the shooter warranteeing to the client that he has obtained all the necessary licenses and releases and indemnifying the client against loss should a lawsuit subsequently arise. It is the videographer's obligation to insure the materials he delivers to the client are free of such encumbrances, hence the existence of "errors and ommissions" insurance commonly required of producers in the broadcast and theatrical film industries.
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Last edited by Steve House; August 22nd, 2009 at 07:35 AM.
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