View Full Version : Release legality - audio/video releases

12-06-2005, 08:49 AM
Hey everyone,

New to the boards, but I have a question. I'm currently makin a feature documentary (www.workingclassrockstar.com) and have obtained proper signed release forms from 95% of my subjects. Early in shooting (while I wasn't quite sure of the legality) instead of signed releases I had the subject state their full name into the camera, and give me express permission to use the interview and material recorded at the time.

My question is this: does anyone know how the law works when it comes to something like this? I'm going to attempt to get signed releases now after the fact, but if I'm unable to obtain them for whatever reason (logistically if anything), do the audio/video releases I obtained hold up? Would I still be within my legal rights to use their interview?

12-06-2005, 10:35 AM
I've seen it done that way. I've also seen it done by having a notice printed up on the entrance of an establishment saying "if you enter, you agree..." blah blah blah.

A signature isn't a magic thing. Verbal contracts should be binding, especially when you have 'em on tape.

12-10-2005, 09:24 AM
The potential pitfall of a verbal agreement is that the subject could come back and claim they didn't understand what they were agreeing to. With a signed paper document, you presumably have the useage clearly spelled out for the subject to read and you can produce that language if asked. It's hairsplitting.
Second reason is that potential distributors might want to see the signed releases for each subject in the film. If they balk at your method, you are SOL.

12-10-2005, 04:10 PM
We have used all of the above. But when it comes to those nasty sharks in the suits (lawyers) they're job unfortunately is to look for risk. Generally they seem to be OK with shooting the paper you've posted at a public event because they understand it's almost impossible to get releases in an event that has a lot of people in attendance. We have also done the video release, but when possible the papered/signed release is better. Xort is right in the post above. What this all boils down to is in the end your E&O may have exclusions and a cost associated with that.

Jarred Land
12-10-2005, 08:02 PM
very good posts guys.