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Legalities of filming private property from public property (a barn).

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Stephen PickeringLegalities of filming private property from public property (a barn).
by on Sep 6, 2013 at 4:44:19 am

So that subject title is confusing I'm sure.

I recently shot some scenery footage of rolling hills and cornfields. Of course the one shot we really like has a few barns and silos visible. There aren't any logos or names or anything specifically distinguishable, but I'm sure the owner would recognize it in the random chance he/she sees it. It was filmed off of a public road.

I would like to use this now in a corporate video for a customer's website. The context of the video is talking about a "positive outlook" and nothing to do with barns or silos- not sure if that matters.

Am I allowed to use this footage?

Thanks!
-Stephen



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Mark SuszkoRe: Legalities of filming private property from public property (a barn).
by on Sep 6, 2013 at 1:47:54 pm

You are probably safe in this specific scenario. Especially if they never even saw you shooting. But I am not a lawyer.

If you feel guilty about it, you could always drive over to the farm and ask the farmer to sign a release. But it may get complicated, because many times the farmer is not the owner, he only rents the property and buildings as a tenant. Now you'll have more people to track down, and at each step, it gets harder to explain what you're doing and folks are less likely to automatically say "yes", for various reasons, some having to do with money and liability and frankly, just a lot of buck-passing. Much simpler to say "no" than figure it all out.

Even in your worst-case scenario, should the barn be recognized by the farmer, you shot it from a public way, it doesn't show anything derogatory... the first thing they'll ask you to do is cut it. By then, the project might be old and irrelevant.

Another way to go is to get paid-for footage that comes pre-cleared by a stock footage company. Or, you can contact the state film office in your state and ask about free stock footage. Some states have government departments that promote tourism and film-making, and they often shoot stock footage showing off various aspects of the state for promo purposes. Depending on the situation, they may give you this stuff free or for the cost of blank media and postage or whatever.


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Stephen PickeringRe: Legalities of filming private property from public property (a barn).
by on Sep 6, 2013 at 2:01:35 pm

Thanks Mark,

It's never crossed my mind and it's literally a stock footage style shot showing a great looking landscape. I would use it in my own without second thought, but the client asked about it which got me thinking. I'd hate to use it only to find out later that we have to reedit it, or worse.

Again, the chance of them seeing it is minuscule. But...

Anyone else have experience to tell me for sure if this is OK? I have no moral reason to not use it but strictly legal is the question.

Thanks again Mark, I'll check into the state suggestion too.



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Mark SuszkoRe: Legalities of filming private property from public property (a barn).
by on Sep 6, 2013 at 3:43:23 pm

If it was me, I'd probably go ahead in this case and use the shot.


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Bill DavisRe: Legalities of filming private property from public property (a barn).
by on Sep 7, 2013 at 3:45:54 am

I second the vote to just use it.

If the standard ever truly becomes that no video footage can ever show anything without licensing, then no video company can ever shoot outside ever again.

The accepted industry practice is that we're free to shoot in public so long as we stay on public rights of way. Incidental background objects are typically fair game when in plain view.

Remember, anyone can literally sue anyone else for anything. The point is not to sue, but to win to achieve a particular result. I can't imagine anyone coming after you for a benign shot of a barn. What would be the point? Now as you note, if you imply that barn houses a crack distribution center, then things get legally dicy real fast.

But a random picture of a pretty barn just doesn't isn't the type of thing that usually ends up in copyright litigation. And as Mark pointed out, the basic remedy would be expected to be a cease and desist letter -- after the horse has already left said barn -- so to speak.

I' too am NOT an attorney and this advice is worth precisely what you're paying for it.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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James DowRe: Legalities of filming private property from public property (a barn).
by on Sep 19, 2013 at 3:49:48 pm

This reminds me of a shoot I had in the Nevada desert earlier this year. I was looking for a vantage point up in the hills, panning across the town below. On our drive up into the hills we passed a house that had signs posted "no cameras."

I asked my local client what was up with that. Apparently the homeowner had been in the news quite a bit a few years prior. We continued down the road,stopping just past the property. I got out, set up my camera and tripod, and shot several slow panning takes, making sure to not include the house with the signs.

As we were driving back down the road, the people at the house with the signs were checking us out. We waved as we drove by. And now I know where Heidi Fleiss lives.

JPD


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Mark SuszkoRe: Legalities of filming private property from public property (a barn).
by on Sep 20, 2013 at 3:28:20 pm

I will never understand, JPD, how you got to do so much cool globe-trotting while working for your employer; it always seemed counter-intuitive to me... it sure is cool, though:-)


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James DowRe: Legalities of filming private property from public property (a barn).
by on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:18:04 pm

Hey Mark...I am a revenue stream for our Association so they let me go where the work is. It's been a fun gig.

JPD

JPD


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