FORUMS: list search recent posts

Filming laws when being hired by other people/businesses

COW Forums : Cinematography

<< PREVIOUS   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
Bryce Douglass
Filming laws when being hired by other people/businesses
on Jan 10, 2019 at 1:16:26 pm

I know this forum isn't for legal advice but hope someone here can give their opinions based on experience.



I have my own filming & production business. I also get hired as a part time employee by other businesses to film for them and produce videos for their use and I occasionally keep or split rights to the videos to use on my own website portfolio. If I'm an employee filming for a business and I am filming people without permission (including minors in private owned buildings that the public regularly access etc) and I have warned my boss about the legal risks involved and they ignore the law/rules can I be held responsible for breaking the law when following the instructions of my employer? Can I be named in any suit as myself, and because my filming business is a sole proprietorship be in jeopardy since I would be participating in what I already know isn't safe and legal?

Bryce


Return to posts index

john sharaf
Re: Filming laws when being hired by other people/businesses
on Jan 10, 2019 at 1:45:52 pm

Bryce,

The disturbing part of your question to me is that you "keep or split rights" to materials you shoot as an employee.

This is a contradiction in terms; when you are an employee the employer owns the materials and without a contract to support your claim to co-ownership, any use of these materials by you would likely be considered theft, which is criminal.

If an issue were to arise about the propriety of filming without permission of materials you "kept and/or split rights" to, you would then be liable.

I would suggest that you return all such materials and inform your employer that going forward you will no longer be keeping any materials, and that you're happy to comply with his instructions, but do so under duress as regards any rights or usage he/she might profit on after the fact.

In such case, you could clearly state that this arrangement predated any legal action, the real exposure to which would be having to hire an attorney to defend yourself. Your employer presumably has E&E insurance to at least cover legal their expense in this situation.

I believe ultimately legal exposure would be "shared" by all who profit by the sale of the footage, whereas you could properly maintain you had and have no knowledge of what your employer did after the production of the materials, and that you were just following their instructions.

I'm not a lawyer, but I too have warned employers (often as a contractor not necessarily as an employee) that they are breaking the law, such as shooting on private property and/or recording audio in a two-party state without consent, but don't necessarily want to refuse to do what they ask, as I don't want to alienate a client.

This is slightly different if the client is a news company or organization, which embodies other protections from the First Amendment that are not accorded to a profit making commercial entity.

JHMO

JS



Return to posts index

Bryce Douglass
Re: Filming laws when being hired by other people/businesses
on Jan 10, 2019 at 2:14:55 pm

[john sharaf] "The disturbing part of your question to me is that you "keep or split rights" to materials you shoot as an employee."

Not sure why you assumed there is no contract. In fact there is an agreement in writing to splitting the rights etc

Bryce


Return to posts index


john sharaf
Re: Filming laws when being hired by other people/businesses
on Jan 10, 2019 at 2:18:34 pm

Well in that case you ARE liable for any legal action as regards profiting from sales
You should have your subjects and locations sign model releases

JS



Return to posts index

Bryce Douglass
Re: Filming laws when being hired by other people/businesses
on Jan 10, 2019 at 2:20:51 pm

here is the problem.

My boss refuses to get releases, Tells me she doesn't have time for that etc. Even when I've tried explaining I would do all that for her. My boss has me backed in a corner and wants to me to upload a video on her website which has footage from inside a shopping mall. The mall owner didn't ask us to leave but told me I wasn't really supposed to be filming there.

Bryce


Return to posts index

john sharaf
Re: Filming laws when being hired by other people/businesses
on Jan 10, 2019 at 2:25:45 pm

Yes, obviously you have a problem
But it's your problem, you must "take the time" to have your subject and location sign a release or you'll end up in legal trouble one of these times

JS



Return to posts index


Todd Terry
Re: Filming laws when being hired by other people/businesses
on Jan 10, 2019 at 3:26:31 pm

Here's the problem... you have zero argument if you use "The boss told me to do it" or "But I'm just working for another guy and he said it is ok" defense. It won't fly.

One person cannot give another person permission to break the law on their behalf. If that was possible, there would be a lot more professional hit men out there.

Here's the analogy that I use with clients... it most often comes up when a corporate client wants to use music for which they don't have the rights, but tell me "It's ok, we'll be liable for it." I tell them to imagine they are stopped for speeding. You can't tell the cop "It's ok, this is my friend's car, he told me to drive as fast as I want, that you can send the ticket to him." It doesn't work that way, the cop is still handing you the ticket.

Follow John's advice and get releases yourself, if you have to. If your client won't abide by that, you shouldn't take that job... after all it is protecting them just as much as it is you.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



Return to posts index

Tom Smith
Re: Filming laws when being hired by other people/businesses
on Jan 12, 2019 at 1:46:10 am

I'm not a lawyer, but I believe that it is perfectly legal to film and audio record random people in public places. That they are minors does not change this.


Return to posts index

Todd Terry
Re: Filming laws when being hired by other people/businesses
on Jan 12, 2019 at 1:59:34 am

[Tom Smith] " I believe that it is perfectly legal to film and audio record random people in public places"

Well, that be technically true. In many (maybe most) cases it's legal to film those random people. But here's the kicker, it is only legal if you don't do anything with the footage.

If you take it home and throw it in a drawer, then pretty much no harm, no foul.

It's the instant that you use or distribute those people's images in any sort of commercial application that the liability kicks in. Swiftly.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



Return to posts index


Mark Suszko
Re: Filming laws when being hired by other people/businesses
on Jan 15, 2019 at 5:09:49 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Jan 15, 2019 at 5:11:50 pm

The most basic thing you can do in the absence of paper releases is to roll audio/video on the person while you're mic'ing them up, as part of the sound check, ask them to spell their name, give a phone or email, and say where they're from, and you ask them, on-camera: "and do you give us permission to use your interview without any other compensation?"

It's not iron-clad, but can help discourage any later complaints.

You can shoot in public spaces, but malls are, contrary to what most people think, private spaces, and you need mall management permission, even to shoot a commercial for a tenant in the mall. Your client/producer is burning bridges if they forego the rigamarole and formal permissions with the mall people. The next time you try to shoot there, you're burned, and will be escorted out or even charged formally.

You have to protect yourself. It's up to you to decide on taking a particular assignment but you need to understand your legal exposure and risk more fully.

When you deal with jerk clients that don't respect the legal issues, and they don't respond to your counsel about it, what's going to happen is, you either go along, and accept the risk, or you don't. A "Jerk" client's most typical response to taking a principled stand is, they will just fire you because you're making their "easy" plan too complicated, and go on to the next willing enabler. And there will always be a line of those guys ready to take the business, and shoot stuff that's uncleared, or use music or graphics without clearing the rights, etc. either because they're desperate and/or uninformed, or they too are the kind that don't care about the risks because they think they're "under the radar" and can get away with it. Or they don't expect to be in the business long enough for this to hurt them. You have to accept that taking the high road is less profitable in the short term.

One thing to have in your arsenal are actual links to proof of the potential consequences, because to many clients, both jerks and non-jerks, this is often seen as an abstraction, and highly unlikely. You being careful and procedurally professional can be interpreted by the unschooled as just being a scared-y-cat ninny. Show them a citation of someone who got zapped for doing it wrong, and your argument will have more credibility.

"Security thru obscurity" used to be what rights violators counted on, just a couple of years ago, when posting ripped materials. Being one tiny plankton in a sea of krill, you might have gotten away with it. But consider that AI and web spiders have gotten much more sophisticated now, and it makes copyright enforcers' job of finding you much easier today.

And you're on the public, permanent record now, by name, as asking about your potential legal exposure in a public forum, so you won't be able to claim ignorance as an excuse. It wouldn't have worked in any case, but lawyers can find this thread during pre-trial discovery and show you and the client were planning to violate the law... and were aware you were going to break it. That's the ballgame, right there, in court.


And always ask yourself, in sketchy situations, if a year from now, it will have seemed worth the risk exposure of losing your personal assets and going thru expensive and time-devouring litigation. It's easy to make the fast money, working dirty. It's not a good move in terms of building a career. The people that ask you to work dirty do not care about you or your career.

You have to. And sometimes that means walking away from easy money.







Return to posts index

<< PREVIOUS   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
© 2019 CreativeCOW.net All Rights Reserved
[TOP]