4 Nov 2022
16 Apr 2021
Whether you are creating an advertisement, an interview, or a documentary to promote your company, creating a video release form is crucial to protect the company and those who are featured in the video. A video release form is a form that is given to the people featured in the production to obtain their consent for permission to include them. Since things and circumstances are always subject to change, obtaining consent upfront and before filming commences is the best way to ensure that no complications arise.
This article will give you an overview of what a video release form is and how to write one. We will also be providing you with templates drafted by legal professionals to ensure that you do not miss out on anything important.
A video release form is a grant of permission given by a person allowing a third party to use a video in which they appear for that third party’s benefit.
There are many kinds of benefits that the third party may obtain by using the video. Common benefits for which the videos are used are usually in connection with advertising, the publication of newsletters, or the production of products (e.g., DVDs).
Video release forms are commonly used when videos are shot for the creation of:
Videos on the internet
A video release form is necessary to obtain the consent of any person who appears in your videos. Consent is needed to comply with privacy and data protection laws.
Privacy and data protection laws, including the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in the EU, state that to lawfully process the personal data of individuals, the consent of that individual should be obtained. Footage in which an individual appears and can be directly or indirectly identified also constitutes personal data.
The easiest way to obtain individuals’ consent is to ask them to sign a video release form. The consent form serves to communicate their agreement to being filmed for certain purposes.
If you fail to obtain the consent of an individual who is identifiable, either directly or indirectly, through your video, you may have to resort to just blurring their image as this makes them unidentifiable.
You might be wondering when it is necessary to ensure that a video release form is executed - does a video release form need to be executed every time any person appears in a video?
The answer is that whenever you are filming a person, wherein that person is directly or indirectly identifiable in the video captured and you intend to publish the video, you should get that person to sign a video release form.
You do not need to use a video release from where a person is not directly or indirectly identifiable through your video.
For instance, if you were to shoot a video and a person’s leg was captured in the corner of the frame throughout the video, you do not need to ask them to sign a video release form.
Furthermore, if you record a video wherein an individual is directly or indirectly identifiable, yet you do not intend to publish the video, then you need not ask the person to sign a video release form.
You should ensure that video release forms are signed by the relevant individuals before you begin recording.
It is important to remember that until you get the consent of the individual being filmed, they can say that they never consented to be filmed. This puts you at risk of spending a lot of money and time filming something but not being able to publish it because the individual(s) consent has been revoked.
Usually, however, obtaining the consent of individuals in a video release form should not be too difficult. This is especially the case with people who regularly appear in videos such as advertisements and films. It might be slightly harder to obtain the consent of individuals that do not regularly appear in videos, as they might need more convincing and explanation as to what exactly they are consenting to.
Another important thing to note is that if you are filming minors, individuals under the age of 18, you will need to obtain the signature of the minor’s legal guardian. This parent or guardian must provide consent for the minor to be involved in the video.
Video release forms are usually quite short documents. Despite being short documents, drafting a video release form is no easy task. This is because there are a variety of elements one should include in a video release form. Some of the main ones to include are the following:
When writing a video release form, you should make sure to specify various media forms on which you are planning to publish the video. The forms of media you may publish the video or extracts from the video on might include the internet, e-mail, magazines, and advertisements.
When specifying the forms of media through which the publication may be made, you should specify all the media platforms you intend to use as well as those which you might use. Stating more is better than less to ensure comprehensive protection. A clause conveying this may state something like the following:
This grant of authorisation extends to all formats, languages, and forms of media now known or henceforth created
You might also want to specify that the individual does not have the right to be consulted before any modifications are made to the video. A clause to this effect, often included in video release forms is as follows:
The Releasor relinquishes any right to inspect or approve any edited videos or final products where the Releasor appears
A video release clause often also includes a clause called a ‘release clause’. A release clause is a clause that outlines the agreement between the parties in which one or both parties relinquish the right to file a lawsuit for potential claims arising from a certain specified agreement. In this case, the specified agreement is the video release form.
Thus, in this context, the release clause operates to prevent one or both parties from filing a lawsuit pursuant to any claim arising from the operation of the video release clause.
A sample release clause is as follows:
The Releasor hereby agrees to hold harmless, release and discharge rights to all claims, demands, and causes to action which the Releasor, the Releasor’s heirs, representatives, executors, administrators, or any other person acting on behalf of the Releasor’s estate have or may have by reason of this authorisation.
In a video release form, you should specify that you have obtained consent to edit or modify the video in the relevant people feature.
Once again, your intention in reserving this right in the video release form is so that your options are kept open for the future as it is hard to predict how you might want to use the video later. As such, you should reserve the right to modify the videos in as many ways as possible.
Every video release form should explicitly state a time limit that dictates when the consent is given will expire.
It is advisable to state that the permissions given in a video release form are to be valid indefinitely. This will ensure you have the freedom to use the videos/audio/images with appearances of the individual, whenever and for however long you desire.
This is subject to whether you have agreed with the person featuring in the video that the permission will expire at a certain point.
Often, the compensation payable to the individual for their appearance in the video will not be included in the agreement. Instead, it might be included in a service agreement entered by both parties. In video release forms, it is often specified whether the subject will be entitled to any compensation arising from the use of the videos.
Generally, video release forms specify that the individual will not be entitled to any compensation for the use of the video. But there is no hard-and-fast rule – whether compensation is provided to the individual for the use of the videos will depend on what has been agreed to by the individual. A sample clause stating that the individual is not entitled to any compensation is as follows:
The Releasor hereby waives the right to any compensation, including but not limited to any royalties arising from the use of the videos.
It is important to consider the different forms of compensation the individual may be entitled to as well – such as royalties and commissions. When writing a video release form, you should aim to be as comprehensive as possible – so if the individual can expect compensation in any of these different forms, it should be spelled out.
As you have probably realised, drafting a video release form can get quite complicated, and accuracy and precision are needed to ensure comprehensive protection.
We have prepared a comprehensive video release form template which you can access here.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is a general summary of the position under common law and does not constitute legal advice. As the laws of each jurisdiction may be different, you may wish to consult your lawyer.
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