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event documentary, individual audence releases neccessary?

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  • event documentary, individual audence releases neccessary?

    A local non-profit did a benefit concert. The audience paid money to buy tickets to attend the concert All the footage takes place inside the "rented" venue. The facility was secure, and only ticket purchasers were allowed in.

    The non-profit hired me to shoot and edit it. I have a valid contract from the non-profit that gave me the right to use the footage in any manner I wanted to.

    Someone wants to buy the footage from me to use in a documentary.

    I have releases from the cast and crew. I do not have individual releases from the audience.

    Given that this is a documentary, that the audience was inside a facility rented by the non-profit, and I have a written contract from the non-profit, do I have to worry about members of the audience sueing me because I did not get them to sign individual releases?

    Thanks in advance,

  • #2
    oops- for that you are obligated to post signs at all entry points explaining that entry into the concert implies agreement to appear in the film. Without that, technically anyone who is recognizable in the audience can sue you. Not too likely but a possibility.

    Noah
    GH2, GoPro HD, AC160, Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon 7D training at www.CallBoxLive.com
    40% discount for 2-poppers! Use code 2pop2012 on these titles.

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    • #3
      I was fortunate to have an opening event party wrapping up the completion of a unique sound studio project I was tracking. I went to everyone involved with a clipboard and got their signatures. That plus original music and you're in rights nirvana.
      - Loren
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      • #4
        Yes I did have "crowd release" notices put on all the doors and entertrence ways.

        I did a little more research and it gets fuzzy. My limited understanding is that the door-release releases their being background, but a "speaking role" requires a individual release.

        If the audience is just shown reacting to the event or wandering around the background, the door release is fine.

        But if the audience member is "featured" by speaking to the camera, or talking, you got to be carefull. I guess it depends on how many words they say and the content.

        I have door releases, but I did not release the people talking directly to the camera. Just to be careful, I'm editing out all the talking parts.

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        • #5
          This is why I use the phrase "your voice and likeness" in all model releases.
          - Loren
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          • #6
            mannfilmz, if someone is _speaking to the camera_that is implicit indication that they _knew they were being filmed_!
            If you don't have someone backed into a corner or the camera hidden; i.e. they can see the camera and get out of it's way if they choose to, you don't have to have a release from them.
            do you think those 1000s of people in NYC crowd shots all signed releases?
            They could probably sue you for libel if you edit them way out of context, but you have nothing to worry about here.
            gretta
            Downtown Dailies/blue studio
            Documentary & Advocacy Video
            Madison WI

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            • #7
              What Gretta said. In addition, I often do a verbal release. I will ask the subject I'm interviewing:

              "May I ask you your full name and spell it for me, and your title?"

              (Subject spells out name and title.)

              "And by giving me this information, yo allow me to ecord and use your voice and likeness for the purpose of....?"

              (Answer any questions on use, wait for assent. )

              "Thank you."

              Interview commences.

              Although it could be legally grey, it's far better than nothing.
              - Loren
              Today's FCP keytip:
              Zoom into or out of your timeline from any window
              with Option-Plus or -Minus! !

              The FCP Studio KeyGuide™ PowerPack!
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              • #8
                You are exactly right, mostly. The audience releases itself as a member of the audience, doing normal audience behavior in the context of a specific event. The second they are "featured" they are no longer a member of the audience. So this gets insanely fuzzy. One issue is if the person is in closeup (ie not shown as part of the audience.) The second issue is how many words they say. A brief "wow great concert" is probably okay, a detailed critique of the event is probably not allowed. The third is issue is context, the footage can only be used as showing the individual as obviously part of the audience of that specific event, and no other event or situation. This is why you see lots of wide shots of audience, but not that many closeups or individual words spoken. Of course this all varies state by state, and by local standards, and by content. Just look at what happened to Girls Gone Wild. What goes in Southern Calf. does not go in redneck Florida. (Personally, I think the GGW desired what happened to them, even if it was not "legal.")

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