You have spent weeks filming and editing a new advertisement to promote your company. You publish the advertisement on the internet and your sales immediately pick up. Everything is going exactly as you planned until you receive an email from a person who appears in your advertisement requesting that you take it down on the grounds that they never gave their consent for it to be published.
This is a situation that videographers and business owners find themselves in all to often. To avoid this untoward situation, you should make sure to ensure that the people who appear in your videos sign a video release form.
A video release form is necessary to receive the necessary permissions from people who feature in your video and will help protect you from any future complications.
This article will give you an overview of what exactly a video release form is and how to write one. It will also provide you with templates prepared by legal professionals.
A video release form is basically 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 ‘benefit(s)’ for which the third party may use 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 in order to obtain the consent of any persons who appear in your videos. Such consent, in turn, is necessary in order to comply with privacy and data protection laws worldwide.
Privacy and data protection laws worldwide, including the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in the EU, state that in order to lawfully process the personal data of individuals, the consent of that individual should be obtained. Footage, wherein an individual appears and can be directly or indirectly identified also constitutes personal data.
The easiest way to obtain the consent of individuals is to ask them to sign a video release form. The consent form will clearly state their agreement to being filmed and the purposes for which any video captured will be used.
If you fail to obtain the consent of an individual who is identifiable, either directly or indirectly, through your video, you should blur their image. This may help ensure they are no longer identifiable.
So, when is it necessary for you to ensure a video release form is executed? Does a video release form need to be executed any time any person appears in one of your videos?
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 duration of the video, you probably 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 necessary persons before you begin recording.
It is important to remember that until you get the consent of the individual being filmed, they say they never consented to being filmed at any time. This puts you at risk of spending a lot of money and time filming something, in which they appear, all to be unable to publish it because the consent of an individual who appears in the video has been revoked.
Usually, obtaining the consent of individuals in a video release form is rarely a struggle. 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 who rarely appear in videos. These people may 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 – persons under the age of 18 – you will need to obtain the signature of a parent or legal guardian of the minor. This parent or guardian will provide consent for the minor to be involved in the video.
Video release forms are usually quite short documents. Despite being short documents, effectively drafting a video release form is no easy task. This is because there are a variety of items one should include in a video release form. Some of the main items to include are the following:
When writing a video release form, you should make sure to specify the forms of media on which you may publish the videos in which the individual features.
You should make sure to obtain the consent of the individual to publish the videos in which they feature on these forms of media. The forms of media you may publish the video or extracts from the video on including the internet, e-mail, magazines, advertisements.
When specifying the forms of media on which such publication may be made, you should try to keep your options open – you don’t know what form of media you might end up wanting to publish part of the video on. Therefore, it is better to specify more forms of media, than less.
A clause often featured in video release forms to ensure publication can be made on as many forms of media as possible is as follows:
This grant of authorisation extends to all formats, languages and forms of media now known or henceforth created
You should also specify that the individual should 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 an 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.
In sum, in this context, the release clause basically prevents one or both parties from filing a lawsuit pursuant to any claim arising from the operation of the video release clause.
An exemplar 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 obtain the consent of persons to edit or otherwise modify the video in which they feature that you have captured.
Once again, your intention in reserving this right in the video release form should be to keep your options open for the future – you don’t know how you may want to use the video in the future. As such, you should reserve the right to modify the videos in as many different ways as possible.
Every video release form should explicitly include a time limit, which governs when the consent given therein is to expire.
It is advisable to always 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 unless you have agreed with any person featuring in the video that after a certain point in time the permission will expire.
Often, the compensation payable to the individual for their appearance in the video will not be included as part of this agreement. The compensation payable for this service will be included in a services agreement entered by both parties separate from the video release form.
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. There is no hard-and-fast rule though – whether compensation is provided to the individual from the use of the videos will depend upon what is agreed with the individual.
It is important to take into account the different forms of compensation that 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. Therefore, whether the individual can expect compensation in any of these different forms should also be specified.
Once again, with these different forms of compensation, usually, the individual will not be entitled to any such compensation from the use of the video in which they feature. answer Once again, however, there is no hard-and-fast rule – it really depends on what you have agreed with the individual.
An exemplar 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.
Clearly, writing a video release form is a complicated process. Accuracy and precision in writing are just a few of the many qualities needed of an author when drafting a video release form.
Why not just avoid the hassle of drafting a video release form by using one of DocPro’s templates?
DocPro has a comprehensive video release form template, which we recommend you use. You can access it 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.
DocPro Legal is a team of legal professionals with a passion for making quality documents and legal contract templates widely available to the public through cutting edge technology. Our lawyers are qualified in numerous common law jurisdictions including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India, Singapore and Hong Kong. We have experience in major law firms and international banks with expertise in business, commercial, finance, banking, litigation, family, succession and company laws.
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