Today I saw a discussion on a Facebook group chat regarding property rights and legal ramifications. There are a lot of good information and suggestions from others comments. I personally experienced similar situation as the OP experienced. I think I would like to share some of the discussion.
OP: A couple of weeks ago, a friend of a friend allowed me to film her home and property to create a real estate demo video that I could hopefully use to get jobs. In exchange, I would provide her with a copy of the finished product to use for whatever. She was home the entire time and allowed me access to film in an/every room or area of the property. In capturing/editing the video, I paid special attention to not show anything that would identify her, her family, her address, her city or state. It is completely anonymous!
After showing her the end product (which came out beautifully) she seemed to like it but reneged on her decision to allow me to make this video public, without giving any reason why. I still delivered her the video but for the insult placed a huge watermark across for the duration of the video.
Not being able to show this to others makes the whole project a big waste of time to me. So, my question is, could there be any legal consequences against me if I decided to go against her wishes and share this video anyways?
Comment: if you have paperwork or some sort of waiver that helps. Otherwise if its private I think it would be illegal, ESPECIALLY if you are shooting it for commercial reasons (real estate demo)
OP: No paperwork (big mistake, I know) just a verbal agreement which she reneged on. I don’t think a sample video would be considered commercial though. I would not be directly profiting just hoping to get work out of it.
Comment: You are on private property, ergo a written release is required, in most countries, so you are shit outta luck. Lesson learned, get paperwork next time.
Comment: I would drop it. If that is a situatuon and you dont trust that person that will not sue you. But before you jump into conclusions I would send her a email explaining your situation honestly and that you invested a lot of time in that project and that you hope that ut will bring you some work protecting her indentity. If she refuses ask her to give you back provided material and confort your self that not all is lost and still u can use it for private showcase and that you got some experience out of it.
Comment: That email corespondence would be suficient proof if she agrees or that agreement was existant at some point.
OP: I’ve explained it to her, she doesn’t care. Her concern is “overexposure” whatever that means.
Comment: Not sure why you give her the video even she don’t allow you to use for portfolio? It is like going to work for a day and the boss say you will not get paid. A hard lesson to learn.
Comment: I think that was act of good will. He can ask it back if the situation is final. If she use it for sale of property or similar hey there is some cool equipment to buy from collecting whats is rightfuly his..
Comment: chalk it up to experience (not so good in this case) and move on…
Comment: It’s a lose lose situation. Take it on the chin and walk away smiling. Otherwise, sooner or later it will bite you.
Comment: It’s not a total loss. You could use the video in private viewings. I have recent client work on my iPad all the time.
Comment: Well she just said you can’t make it public, so only share it with someone privately. Problem solved.
Comment: Put it on Vimeo password protected, then give the link and password to anyone you want to show your work to.
Comment: If you plan on MARKETING the video to PROMOTE your work FOR THE PURPOSE to GET work, that is a COMMERCIAL purpose. YOU are the commercial purpose because YOU want to get money for the work you do. That is pretty cut and dry. If you can’t get her agreement in writing, then she could pursue legal action. It could end a friendship and it could lead you both to significant legal fees. Sometimes you just got to know when to walk from a situation that would have been clearly called out if it was a written agreement.
Comment: Yup. Get it in writing. But you did good by providing only a burn in copy. Typically, when I deliver previews in this digital delivery world, It’s got a time code burn in in the center of the frame and it says PREVIEW above that.
OP: The only reason I wanted to shoot this persons home is because it’s awesome and the type of high end estate that realtors are willing to pay well to market but I’ve definitely learned my lesson. Yes, I already did lose a friend thru this deal too, the girl I was currently dating. That’s okay though, learned a lot about her character that I didn’t like so it was time for her to go anyways.
Comment: Similarly, though, she has no agreement from you, and you have a verbal that you could shoot her home and use the video.
Often in vague situations like this, I get the participants to provide their verbal agreement on camera as well. Either directly to the camera or “I appreciate you letting me shoot your home for a demo video… Oh no problem.” Conversation while I shoot.
Comment: #1 always get a “Location Release” signed before you begin. Google and you can find examples. #2 since you are only using the piece for self-promotion and not for sale, I would not be worried about it at all. Maybe you would re-edit it and make it very short while you are looking for a new location for another shoot.
Comment: If you you showed someone the video that was on your tablet, that was in your hands, as you stood next to them, you are not distributing it.
OP: Yes, I will definitely show potential clients on my tablet and even possibly share a private link but I also wanted to just have it on my website and/or FB page so that’s the real limiting factor.
Comment: don’t do it. the ramifications can be huge. although you may have gotten a verbal agreement from her, unless you can prove it …. she can sue you. it doesn’t matter if she was there the whole time. I’m working on a short that will include family members and will still get written or on-camera authorizations. is it worth wrecking your video business because you wish not to do a re-shoot elsewhere. can you guarantee the person won’t find out you’re showing off her house? if you took video of her house in passing that’s one thing. but it’s a focal point of your video. either find a way to convince her to agree or re-shoot elsewhere.
Comment: Well, since you gave her the video, it’s too late. But simply not giving her the video would have changed the outcome. She pays you for it or she allows you to use it for promotional use. Simple.