I have never really considered what my rights are as a video blogger, as I have only filmed myself and used all Redpilot music (or GBs) and photos in my videos. But yesterday, I posted a video that I took at private party whilst I was in San Francisco and a bunch of people were unhappy.
The party hosts were angry that I didn’t ask permission before posting the video, as it was their home and they were visible in the video. What made matters worse is that the video went viral on Valleywag (basically Silicon Valley’s US Weekly).
I honestly didn’t think of any of these issues before posting the video. I was more concerned with Feist suing me for using her song. I was genuinely surprised that anyone at this high-tech, twitter/blog centric gathering would mind me posting this video, let alone think it was a violation of privacy. But it was private property and I did not ask explicit permission before posting the video which was my fault entirely.
My own knowledge of privacy laws and video blogging is obviously lacking. So, let’s talk about the rights and rules of video blogging so that we can educated ourselves before hitting the publish button and getting in heaps of trouble.
A few weeks ago, TWiP specifically addressed photographer’s rights in a podcast entitled, “The War on Photography.” They linked to an important guide that clearly outlines your rights as a photographer.
You might want to download a copy of this PDF and keep one in your camera bag, in the event that you are yelled at by an irate mother for taking a shot with their kid in the frame. (I get yelled at at least once a day for taking photos of houses, dogs, people, places, shops… You name it. I’ve been yelled at for taking a picture.)
So what are your rights as a photographer? According to Bert P. Krages II (the second!), Attorney at Law:
…anyone may take photographs of whatever they want when they are in a public place or places where they have permission to take photographs.
This means you can take pictures in any public place, any person (celebs, kids, accident scenes, houses, people on their front lawn), airports, train stations, even criminal activities (though I don’t advise this one :P). It’s important to note that there is definitely a grey area when it comes to shooting photos on private property:
Property owners may legally prohibit photography on their premises but have no right to prohibit others from photographing their property from other locations. Whether you need permission from property premises depends on the circumstances. In most places, you may reasonably assume that taking photographs is allowed and that you do not need explicit permission.
Ok, so you can take photos basically anywhere, including private property, unless the property owner explicitly tells you not to. If they tell you not to take photos, you are legally obligated to obey.
The one thing this guide does not cover is how do these rules change when you are publishing the image or making money from the publication of the photo or how this applies to the www and specifically bloggers. When you publish a picture or video on your blog, it goes viral and is completely Google searchable, which means heaps more people will be able to see it, share it, and copy and paste it anywhere. Also, if you have any ads on your blog or are using a video sharing platform that embeds ad into your videos, you are technically earning money from your content.
So I have three questions for you:
1. Should we apply the rights of a photographer to a videographer’s/vlogger’s as they are completely different mediums?
2. Should the rules change when publishing and monetary gain is involved?
3. With no way of regulating where and how your photos & viral videos can end up, do you feel a greater pressure to censor your content?
I’m really interested to hear your thoughts on this.