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Old September 26th, 2011, 10:22 AM   #1
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Releases For Audience Shots

Hi - I'm doing a video for a client - a short 3-4 min marketing video. A large part of it will be from a shoot of one of his presentations/workshops. I possibly want to include some audience shots ranging from wide shots to maybe a few individual reaction shots. This is a workshop open to public.

Questions - Do I need to obtain releases from the individuals in the audience? Offer an "opt-out" announcement/option that they have to approach us pro-actively about? Not worry about it?

On a similar note. I'm going to do some shots of his employees - you know - answering phone at desk sort of stuff .. maybe even one or two where they say something. Should I get releases from them for this?

Lastly - can anyone provide or point me to a good release form to use as a basis for my form?

Thanks!
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Old September 26th, 2011, 10:28 AM   #2
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Re: Releases For Audience Shots

I do some Govt videos with audiences of govt and non gov employees, they put up a sign at every entrance
advising that if you enter the room you will be on camera and waive all rights. we do release the scheduled speakers.
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Old September 26th, 2011, 05:47 PM   #3
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Re: Releases For Audience Shots

Shots of the employees at work, at their desks, etc absolutely. Early on many years ago I shot some stills for my employer at the time, an airline reservations call centre, of coworkers in the office etc to be used in a multimedia presentation to be shown at a Christmas party for our travel agency clients. The sort of thing you're doing, a "here's the faces at the other side of the phone line" kind of thing. Came to work the next day to be summoned into a meeting with my boss and the presidents of the local chapters of AFTRA and SAG. Turns out a couple of the employees who were photographed also were also union members who worked part-time as actors and TV personalities and we were looking at potential legal action. We managed to negotiate an amiable agreement but it was quite a shock at first.

Pays to do your homework ahead of time. I'd say for audience reactions a sign posted at the entrances would do it. But for anyone featured on camera, even briefly, get a signed release from them.
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Old September 29th, 2011, 10:52 PM   #4
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Re: Releases For Audience Shots

I'm not an IP attorney, but I think the key here is whether the person you're videotaping has an "expectation of privacy."

In a public setting they typically do not. This is why we all see camera footage of public street scenes all the time.

On private property the rules change.

This is why you see "general releases" printed on the back of stuff like tickets to concerts and ball games - and why smart producers print lobby cards outside of seminars where filming is taking place. It makes for a stronger "affirmitive defense" if someone from the crowd steps up and demands payment for their appearance.

In essence, if you're featuring someone - it's ALWAYS smart to get a specific release. It's just good business practice.

But the bottom line is always that anyone can sue anyone else for anything. No release, public posting or disclaimer can prevent that.

All you can do is make sure you've covered your bases as well as possible so that you can argue that the person raising the ruckus clearly should have known that their image and likeness was being recorded and had the option to choose not to participate if they didn't want to show up in the program.
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Old September 30th, 2011, 10:43 AM   #5
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Re: Releases For Audience Shots

Good discussion on releases, thanks.

I'm thinking of an on camera release to make it easier on the client and perhaps less intimidating. Short & simple without legalese, but covers the bases. Does anyone have any thoughts on the verbiage to use please?

Regards,
Doug.
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Old September 30th, 2011, 12:39 PM   #6
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Re: Releases For Audience Shots

Doug,

The problem is that "the basics" are a rapidly moving target.

Search out and download any "form" video release. As you read it, you can see that a lot of what it covers clearly has come from the experience of years of using them in practical situations.

A good release covers practical issues well beyond "I agree to be in your video." It covers the details of such use. Along with the right to use the persons "image and likeness" it spells out that you may also use their voice, personal property and clothing, and real property (if, foe example, you're shooting in their home) , and to combine the original images via editing with other images, it spells out your right to alter or distort things via video manipulation, and to use that footage in "derrivitive works" such as compliations, montages, etc. etc. etc.

To ask someone to do all that on-camera would be tedious and boring.

Legal practices are largely things that have developed over time to address specific problems that are common to many.

The "video release" has a long tradition. To ignore it or try to over simplify it might seem smart in the short run, but history has proved that it's a pretty poor long-term business survival strategy.

For what it's worth.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 09:55 AM   #7
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Re: Releases For Audience Shots

Many thanks Bill, that's a great reply & thought provoking. Not quite as simple as I thought. I've certainly found that with stills releases some folks are quite happy to sign and others not, maybe 50/50.
Regards,
Doug.
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