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-   -   Do I need permission? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/taking-care-business/11782-do-i-need-permission.html)

Matt Elias July 8th, 2003 04:57 PM

Do I need permission?
I attmepting my first docu this summer in my hometown. It's mainly for experience - more of a student film than anything. I was wondering if I still need to cover myself legally, like asking permission to film exteriors of businesses that I may come accross while shooting, with my GL2. I doubt that I'd distribute this docu when I'm finished, but we'll see after post. If I don't cover myself now then I'm afraid thatit may bite me in the butt later on.

Barry Goyette July 8th, 2003 06:31 PM


I'm not the most knowlegeable on this, but I think that documentary production, as a rule, falls under a different category than say commercial or feature production in that if the footage is "newsworthy" you are essentially protected under "freedom of the press" from issues regarding use of business or other names in your project. (otherwise, micheal moore would have GM, wal-mart and the white house up his butt for the rest of his life).

This is not to say you can step onto private property without permission, but incidental imagery taken from public view should present no problem.


Matt Elias July 8th, 2003 08:54 PM

Barry, thanks for the advice - it makes sense. That also answers my question on how Michael Moore was able to use the Dick Clark footage in "Bowling." I thought you always need a release to be signed for that type of stuff. Do you know of any resources on the web so that I may further explore this issue? I'll have a few personal resources my self, and will postmy findings in the near future if anyone is interested.

Dylan Couper July 8th, 2003 09:22 PM

It's good experiencee to start asking people now. It'll help you when dealing with people later.

Keith Loh July 8th, 2003 09:26 PM

Dick Clark is a known public figure so it would be hard for him to make a case for a documentary filming him harming his privacy. The only issue in my mind is if Moore was trespassing when he was poking into Clark's van. We had a back and forth about this after Moore won the Oscar and I have no wish to debate that further.

I'm not certain of this but a release also may not protect you against defamation of character.

Curtis T. Stoeber July 8th, 2003 09:29 PM

To my knowledge you can shoot anything without permission as long as you and the camera are on public property the entire time, like a sidewalk. If you go in a house/building or even into the parking lot then the rules change. There are probably exceptions to this rule that I do not know of.

Mike Butler December 15th, 2003 03:32 PM

Well, if you are a mapping company shooting aerial video, you can get sued by Barbra Streisand. (Of course she also got thrown out of court, suing isn't the same as winning a case.)

Marco Leavitt December 15th, 2003 08:16 PM

Man, when in doubt -- go ahead and shoot. It's tough enough to make a documentary without inventing barriers for yourself. If you lose the footage to legal entanglements, at least you tried. You'll lose a lot more footage by being overly timid.

Mike Butler December 16th, 2003 11:05 AM

Marco--amen to that, I just keep it rolling, and run when I get physically threatened. :-)

Barry--GM, Walmart et al probably know that Mr Moore would LOOOOVE the free publicity, which is why they leave it alone. Plus, sympathetic juries would be treated to poor little Michael crying First Amendment against the big, ba-a-a-a-ad corporations, so the chances of plaintiffs prevailing here are not great.

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