Right to Publicity

One of the issues we face all too often is copyright. We get calls from people wanting footage transferred to or duplicated from DVD or clients wanting to use certain music with their project. Over and over again we have to explain that you can’t just use whatever you want because of the need to obtain permissions to legally use or reproduce intellectual property belonging to someone else. (A novel concept, I know.)

My dad came across a discussion from the Digital Video Information Network from the fall of 2003 about the rules for shooting (video or photography) of people in public spaces. The whole thread is worth a read but the highlights are posts by Robert Knecht Schmidt regarding crowd shots and a detailed post by Scott Shuster about use and the difference between making a picture and creating a product.

Basically, if I’m reading this correctly, anyone can take a picture of anyone in public – even if the subject does not want to have his/her picture taken – because it’s public. Shuster humorously explains, “If they do not wish to be seen in public, they have the option to stay home with shades down or wear a head-to-toe body covering garment.” That’s the nature of being in a public space.

The real issues arise when you take the image(s) created beyond private viewing and share or sell it in whole or in part. Other points raised include the identifiability of the people in the shot or, in the case of crowds, whether or not you linger on any one area for an extended period.

A really interesting read.

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