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Taking Care of Business
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Old May 3rd, 2012, 08:04 AM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: York, UK
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corporate permissions and release forms query

Hi Folks,

Some months ago I did a corporate shoot for a client (a consultancy agency) which involved filming interviews with the directors of one of the UKs leading food firms and filming GVs in and around the factory (my client's client).

As usual with this kind of shoot I made my client aware that they needed to clear all filming permissions with their client - particularly for filming in the factory and the interviewees.

It now transpires that whoever's job it was to do this only sought verbal permission from the contributors and didn't get anything in writing.

My client's, client (the food firm), as I understand it due to a change in management, have now demanded my client remove this video from YouTube, where they had been using it to promote their consultancy business, stating that we never had permission to film in the factory - or indeed at all.

My question is, is their any comeback for my client here. I was copied in to an email from one of the directors of the food firm stating that we could have access to film some areas of the factory floor, although some would be restricted and we would be under supervision at all times (which indeed we were). Unfortunately this particular individual had now left the company and the new management is now saying he had no right to let us in there.

The interviews we filmed were shot to a portable green screen, with big lights - we in effect built a temporary studio - and I find it amazing that the new management suggest we would have been there without permission - as if the managers we filmed could have been under any illusion that they weren't being filmed - what with a giant green screen and an interviewer asking them questions and all.

It would be a real shame for my client to have to bin this vid. Does anyone have any experience here, or been in any similar situations? Is it possible to establish consent if it is clear from the material that the subject can be under no illusion that they are being filmed?

Any advice here would be appreciated.
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Old May 3rd, 2012, 10:15 AM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Cambridge UK
Posts: 2,810
Re: corporate permissions and release forms query

OK I'll start off the discussion. Very tricky one that. I've learnt the hard way with dealing with businesses, especially the big corporates, to have everything stated in writing in a contract that is signed off before filming ever starts. Indeed one section of my standard contract is entitled 'Copryright, Permissions, Responsibilities and Timings'.

I had a situation 3 years ago where a small but very successful business that I shot a promo video for wanted it removed from YouTube, my website etc. as they had since changed the emphasis and branding of their business from the time when the video was shot (the previous year). No problem, I just complied (even though my contract allowed me to keep the material on public view if I so wished to promote my video production skills). It was a cracking film but life's too short to rub people up the wrong way.

I often have situations where I'm shooting in factories and specific bits of kit, areas, technologies etc. need to be out of shot plus every shot in the Final Cut needs MD signed-off approval (because their competitors will watch the videos like a hawk etc.). Indeed some of the clever things and technologies in the Cambridge area that I shoot are under NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreement) and definitely not for public viewing - yet!

Anyway, back to you specific problem. Maybe someone said something in the interviews or a process got shown that the new management feels is compromising their IP (intellectual property) or know-how/trade secrets. Maybe the video is just giving the world an impression that is different to the one they (now) want to show, even if it was OK with the previous management.

Bottom line is simple. If things are not set up right and signed off right, and that means everything spelled out in writing on signed documents, then things like this will come back to bite the unwary.

I've learnt all this the hard way, of course!!! Hope this helps and sorry if it sounds defeatist. Put it down to experience and tell your client to move on.
Andy K Wilkinson -
Cambridge (UK) Corporate Video Production
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Old May 3rd, 2012, 05:37 PM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Fayetteville, NC
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Re: corporate permissions and release forms query

The best thing you can do here is stay out of the situation. It was your clients responsibility to get permissions and not yours. Inserting yourself into this mess can only lead to problems for you and could get you entangled in a legal argument. As a subcontractor it is neither your responsibility nor is it in your best interest to get involved in decisions made above you.

Hopefully your client's due diligence will be better next time.
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Old May 4th, 2012, 04:34 AM   #4
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Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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Re: corporate permissions and release forms query

Originally Posted by Chris Brooke View Post
Is it possible to establish consent if it is clear from the material that the subject can be under no illusion that they are being filmed?

Any advice here would be appreciated.
AFAIK knowledge that one is filming doesn't in and of itself constitute permission. And don't know about UK law but this side of the pond, "permission" from someone not legally authorized to give it, ie, from someone in a high-enough pay-grade, is no permission at all. And permission to physically be on the property shooting is not the same thing as permission to use the images recorded for some particular commercial purpose - you might have permission to shoot in the food company's plant but that wouldn't give you permission to sell the footage to a competitor who wanted to put together an ad showing how dirty that facility actually was.
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