General Question

pplufthesun's avatar

What are my rights when I am filming with a video camera?

Asked by pplufthesun (607points) March 29th, 2009

I was just wondering, what are my rights as far as filming with a video camera. Am I allowed to film other people? Do I have to blur out their faces? etc.

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8 Answers

TheIowaCynic's avatar

Super question. I’m curious what the answer is. I know filming rights vary from country to country and state to state. Videotaping your neighbors getting it on through their window is probably illegal, but I couldn’t tell you beyond that

Mr_M's avatar

I think (so don’t take my word as an absolute) that you have the right to photograph whatever is in the PUBLIC domain (ex., a couple getting it on in a public park is OK to film, putting a camera in their window is not).

Then, too, is what you will do with the picture. If you put it out for money (in a commercial let’s say) you either have to pay anyone who is recognizable, or blur out the face. If it is a NEWS story, you don’t pay them.

dynamicduo's avatar

Where do you live? The laws change depending on where you are and possibly what state you are in.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

You have the right to photograph just about anything in public. The papparazi get away with a lot of their behavior without repercussion.
Of course the major thing on this topic is that people tend to be very uncomfortable when they are being filmed.

shadling21's avatar

It does depend on your broadcasting/distribution methods, too, as far as I know.

If it’s a video for your own viewing pleasure, it’s one thing. If it’s for a feature film, it’s another. And if it’s for a commercial, as @Mr_M mentioned, well, that’s a whole other bag of chips.

dynamicduo's avatar

Generally speaking, you have the right to photograph/videotape anything deemed in public, that is to say, the person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Shooting a couple in the park: legal. Shooting them in their house: illegal. Parade? Fine.

The property you are on plays into your rights too. If you are on private property (in a mall) you are subjected to the rules of the establishment, which many times prohibits photos/videos. If they ask you to stop, you should stop because you have no right to continue filming. They have the right to eject you from the premise. They do not have the right to touch or take your camera, nor to delete your photos. Standing up for your rights in such situations is at times tough, and it may be easier to delete the (or one) photo and turn the camera off to cause the situation to end.

What you do with the photo/video plays a lot of impact towards your rights. You cannot advertise someone as giving an opinion without their explicit consent (a model release sheet). So that photo of the couple in the park, you can’t use it to advertise your dating website by adding a speech bubble about how happy the couple is. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to use their image for anything commercial without written consent.

Generally speaking, if a person does not want to be filmed, you should comply and stop filming them unless you have a newsworthy or seriously valuable reason for filming them (a crime in progress, for example, a calamity, etc). Not doing so stands the risk of escalating the encounter, and many photographers have had their cameras smashed because they simply wouldn’t back down. People have rights too, just because you have a recording tool doesn’t mean their rights are ignored or somehow lessened. Of course, you can litigate regarding the broken equipment, but again, if one had just stopped filming, the entire sticky situation would not exist.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Also, if you are going to interview a person, or capture their words, you need to get a release if you intend to sell or profit from the footage.

galileogirl's avatar

Actually there have been legal cases where people who have been filmed through the window lost against the Peepers. As long as the peeper is not on the property they did not break the trespassing law. In one case the woman was in the master bathroom out of sight, she thought, from the bedroom window. The guy stood on the sidewalk and taped her reflection in the bathroom mirror while she dressed. She lost her suit.

Another case was when a man stood on his own property in his bathrobe and taped his neighbor every time she was visible doing everyday activities. After months of this she got the authorities to send an officer and he was able to arrest the guy for exposing himself but not for the taping. And the guy was still able to live there and film the woman from inside his house.

The thing that gets me is you can be filmed for commercial purposes without permission as long as they don’t show your face. So images of your body, which may be recognizable to your family or friends, might be used for anything.

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