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Taking Care of Business
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Old July 5th, 2004, 05:41 PM   #1
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Prisoner's rights

I was allowed to film in a cell block. Before I went in the warden told a guard to announce that filming was about to start and if anyone didn't want to be photographed they should turn around.
I have footage of the warden saying that to the CO. By not turning around did the inmates consent to being photographed?

Also, I shot in a courtroom with the permission of the judge. Are releases required from everyone present? Thanks.
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Old July 7th, 2004, 11:49 AM   #2
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Interesting question about prisoners. Prisoners do lose many rights, but do they lose a right of privacy from being photographed? I wonder if that's ever been litigated.
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Old July 16th, 2004, 09:57 PM   #3
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Of course filming is one thing, using the images and sound is quite another.
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Old July 19th, 2004, 09:01 AM   #4
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A couple of red flags here:

1) Laws vary by state - be sure to check with a lawyer. In many states, prisoners are protected by very strong confidentially laws. My wife works in a maximum security prison and has to deal with this all the time.

2) Prisoners are, for the most part, the most lawsuit happy bunch of people in the world. They have plenty of time, access to legal advice, local "jailhouse lawyers" and books. They love to file suits over the most trivial things in the hopes that they can use the suit as a bargaining chip for what they really want. A hypothetical example:

A prisoner who appears in your movie (even if he is "turned around") can claim that he is now in danger because gang members would recognize him and know what prison he is in. He will sue you and the prison system (much deeper pockets than you!) for millions. What he really wants is transfer to another prison, but in the meantime, you have spent big bucks defending yourself.

If I were you, I would either use extras or at the very least get signed and witnessed releases from all who are in the shot - regardless if whether they are recognizable.
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Old July 19th, 2004, 09:25 AM   #5
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great advice. i know they love to bring lawsuits. it's like a sport.
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Old July 20th, 2004, 03:04 PM   #6
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Most of their lawsuits are habeas corpus actions to try to get released, or 8th amendment suits too complain about the food. It's kind of funny if it didn't clog the system so much.
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Old July 21st, 2004, 04:57 PM   #7
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Hey, they're just playing the game like everyone else. Don't you think big businesses are doing exactly the same thing and "clogging" up the works? It just doesn't get the play because, well, because that's what we think businesses should do. Prisoners, well, they get the press because it's just not done!

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Old July 22nd, 2004, 08:53 AM   #8
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" Don't you think big businesses are doing exactly the same thing and "clogging" up the works?"

No, that's definitely a new one. Businesses rarely file frivolous lawsuits. The consequences for them are far worse than for individuals. The consequences for prisoners to do so are virtually none.
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Old July 22nd, 2004, 04:01 PM   #9
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I guess it's a matter of perspective. I hear all the time of businesses filing lawsuits over the goofiest things. Fox challenging Al Franken about using "fair and balanced". Didn't SCO sue just about everyone about some Unix code in their products? Disney goes after anyone who even remotely uses an image that *they* claim is one of theirs. You may not call these frivolous but it's no more laudable than prisoners suing over food.

Just my opinion.

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Old July 22nd, 2004, 05:37 PM   #10
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Dennis, now the Al Frankens have challenged Fox in court saying they should have to quit using the "Fair and Balanced" slogan. They were swatted down like common housefly, but it still cost the taxpayers money.
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Old July 23rd, 2004, 02:28 PM   #11
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Ok, Dennis I see what you mean now. It's definitely true there are some silly lawsuits out there.

When I think of frivolous suits though, what usually comes to mind are when individuals file claim after claim over little slips and falls, or prisoners file, like I said. Sometimes you get quacks who get worthless patents and sue dozens of companies hoping one will settle.

There's definitely some stupid lawsuits in the IP world, even by corporations. I see SBC, for example, suing over a patent that to me, as a former computer student, seems utterly ridiculous. Copyright suits are less likely to be frivolous, unless you're the RIAA. ;) Yes, that's a joke and I do recognize that copyright infringement is occurring. I just think RIAA's lawsuits are worthless.
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