Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes and is not legal advice. You should not rely on any information contained in this article until you have gained independent legal advice.
If you are filming a video that you want to distribute or sell, you are going to need release forms to be signed. Release forms for video production are basically contracts that say a person has given you permission to film them or their property. It’s crucial that you have release forms for all of the actors and copyright materials used in your video. This will protect you and your video from legal issues, such as an actor not wanting you to use their image after filming or any copyright products appearing in your video production. The types people you need to sign a release form are:
– Any actors that appear in your video, including voice actors.
– Any members of the public interviewed.
– Staff members that appear in the video for an agency.
– Owners of private land that you are filming on.
If you are filming outside in public, on public land, it’s generally accepted that you don’t need to have release forms signed by everyone who appears in the background. It’s generally considered that if you walk around in public spaces, you have waived your right of reasonable right to privacy. This can be complicated and a tricky legal area, so when in doubt, try to get as much permission as is reasonable. It is polite to ask permission before filming anyone, especially if they are unpaid. Keeping this in mind will help keep your film shoot drama-free.
In order to protect yourself and your video properly, there are a few key things that need to be included in your release form. These include:
– What is being released. (e.g. Video, audio, music etc.)
– That you plan to sell or assign rights of use to third parties.
– That the content and rights to the video cannot be changed or it’s distribution stopped.
– That the release for is in writing and signed by the appropriate people.
If an actor or person featured in the video is under 18 years of age, you will need to have the legal parent or guardian sign the release form.
The biggest mistake that people usually make when it comes to release forms for video production is not having them. If you are shooting a video, whether regularly or a one off, consult a legal professional. They will advise you on everything you need on your release form and might even help you type one up.
Here is a generic release form for video production. Requirements for release forms may vary, depending on geographical location, and needs, however this is a good example of what is required. Please do not take this as legally binding until you have consulted a legal professional.
AUDIO/PHOTO/VIDEO MEDIA RELEASE FORM
I grant permission to [Insert Program, Coalition, Organization name here] and its agents or employees to use photographs and/or video and audio taken of me. These images may be used in educational, documentary and commercial materials such as Public Service Announcements, Grant Applications, Video Documentaries, Commercial Television and both printed and online newsletters and newspapers. Furthermore, I authorize the use of my image, likeness, and voice for all program promotion, materials, and any other purposes in connection with the program deemed appropriate and necessary by [program, coalition, organization names].
I hereby agree to release, defend, and hold harmless [organization] and its agents or employees, including any firm publishing and/or distributing the finished product in whole or in part, whether on paper, via electronic media, or on Web sites, from any claim, damages, or liability arising from or related to the use of the photographs/video, including but not limited to any misuse, distortion, blurring, alteration, optical illusion, or use in composite form, either intentionally or otherwise, that may occur or be produced in taking, processing, reduction, or production of the finished product, its publication, or distribution.
I am 18 years of age or older and have read this release before signing below, fully understanding the contents, meaning, and impact of this release. I understand that I am free to address any specific questions regarding this release by submitting those questions in writing prior to signing, and I agree that my failure to do so will be interpreted as a free and knowledgeable acceptance of the terms of this release.
Name (please print)
Ryan Spanger is one of Melbourne’s most respected and sought-after video production professionals. Ryan founded Dream Engine in 2001, and specializes in helping medium to large corporates, government departments, and the non-proﬁt sector to connect with their audience by using video.