A funeral parlour in Brooklyn has recently had legal proceedings taken out against them because they used footage of a young man’s funeral as part of their sales campaign. Now you may think, ‘Gosh, that’s probably a bit insensitive at the best of times….’ but on the other hand showing the care and attention taken over a sensitive essential service may be a good thing and something that potential clients would appreciate? However, whether in poor taste or not, sadly the company didn’t get consent forms completed for the footage and the sort of publicity being given to the funeral parlour is the sort they’d rather not have at all!
The moral of the story is: always make sure you get consent forms completed for any video production work you are responsible for filming, editing or duplicating. Although, in theory, the copyright of material filmed by a producer belongs to the producer, the same as a photographer owns the copyright in photographs, and even though companies may have permissions written into employees’ contracts, it’s a good safety net and professional practice to get your own consent form completed. It also gives you the correct spelling of someone’s name, their designation if appropriate, and contact details in case you need to clarify anything later, along with absolute proof that they weren’t coerced or filmed without their knowledge.
The other area that facilities companies need to consider is when materials are being brought to them for post production or replication – if a client brings materials into us for inclusion in a programme we always ask for copyright clarification – it’s far better to ask at the outset rather than have a nasty bit of litigation land on your doorstep later on because the thing is, though the client may of filmed or recorded a bit of a, say, Robbie Williams concert on his mobile phone, or more common these days, of downloaded an image from Google and want to use it to illustrate a point in his video programme or powerpoint presentation, he doesn’t necessarily own the copyright!