online video legal considerationsIt is the boring stuff, but it is important. You might not intend to do it but a lack of awareness could cause you to break the law when publishing online video content and unfortunately ignorance does not indemnify you from the long arm of the law.

Here we have put together some of the online video legal considerations we would recommend that you take a peep at before letting your video out into the big wide… web.

Permission, permission, permission

1 . Get permission from People

Whoever you feature in your video, whether they are professional and paid or unprofessional and unpaid, you need their consent before you publish any content that uses their contribution. It is good practice to carry consent/release forms with you when you are on shoots because you can ask contributors to sign them there and then – saving you the hassle of chasing them up in future. Make sure that your release forms clearly state the intended use of the footage.

2. Get permission to use Locations

As well as people, you also need permission to use places. Seek permission in advance of your shoot, or you could be embarrassingly ejected from the location or venue mid-session. Be sure to seek consent from event promoters and actual venue managers.

You may want to use someone else’s work – archive footage for example, or music. The first step is to find out who owns it. Then seek permission either by using a release form or getting permission via email for example. If you choose the latter option, make sure you cover all of the same details that are included in your release form. There is a lot of free archive footage and music under creative commons license – see the Creative Commons website for more information.

4. If you can’t find out who owns something, or you can’t get permission, don’t use the content. The exception to this would be if your video fell under the protection of ‘fair use’ (see below for full explanation).

5. Caution when using embedded videos from YouTube

The ‘allow embedding’ function on YouTube is optional. This means that the owner of the video chooses whether or not they would like people to share their video on their behalf. Therefore, if the embed function is enabled, it is fair to assume that you have permission to share a video. However, it is important to act with caution. If you are going to embed a video on your website, be sure to check the content carefully; it is possible that someone other than the owner of the content has uploaded it, putting you at risk of legal action.

6. Get written contracts

It is advisable to have your permissions in written form. It may be necessary to seek legal advice on drawing up written permission depending on the complexity of your content. Otherwise a simple release/waiver form detailing who is involved and what the content will be used for should be your starting point – signed by all relevant parties of course.

Fair use
Fair use is when you have legal protection to use/copy someone else’s copyrighted material in your own video (or other) content.

Copyright infringement
This refers to the use of a whole video, or particular content featured in a video, which is under someone else’s copyright. Not only does this include the direct use of the video or content, it also includes reproducing (e.g. through a performance) or making derivative pieces based on a work that is under copyright.

Trademark infringement
Trademark infringement refers to the use of someone’s name or brand in your video which could damage the image of the owners trademark.

Right of publicity
This is the right to control how your image is represented and used for any purpose. This applies to individuals and to locations or facilities, hence the need for location permissions when shooting video outside of your own studio or building.

Right of privacy
This refers to an individuals right not to be represented publicly without having given their express permission.

Defamation refers to the act of making statements in a video against someone that are knowingly false and recklessly disregard the facts resulting in damage to the individual or company or creating a negative image of them.

Seek advice if you are unsure. You are probably in no rush to follow these links but it must be a comfort to know they are there. YouTube provides some really useful guidance as do another number of sites out there. Here are a list of ones that we have found particularly useful:

YouTube’s Terms and Conditions

YouTube’s Copyright Notice

ReelSEO: Who owns your YouTube video?

Theme Park Insider article

Seaworld use copyright to prevent a customer using a video of an orca attack taken on their premises.

ReelSEO: Using Copyrighted Music in Professional Videos and Slideshows