When crafting video, there’s nothing that hampers the creative juices more than realizing you forgot to dot your “i”s and cross your “t”s with your agency attorneys. And, yes, it may seem very 1980′s to get people to sign forms in order to be videotaped. After all, people are videotaped and uploaded to YouTube all the time against their will, right?
But if you work for a federal agency (or most organizations), you need to think about video and photograph release forms before you get started. This will save you headaches in the long run.
Fortunately, government videos aren’t used for commercial purposes, so you have more protections than if you planned to sell your video. But you’re not in the clear, however. You still need video release forms for your government video so that you:
1. Protect yourself from lawsuits – If a person doesn’t want to appear in a video and asks to be removed, you need to remove them or they can sue you.
2. Protect yourself from dismissed or angry employees – Someone may be happy to shoot a video with you now, until they get fired or leave their position after a bitter dispute. They may tell you to take down their video, and you’ll have to comply unless you have a release form.
You’ll need a signed video release form (emailed versions are ok) whenever you:
- Create promotional videos of people
- Use someone’s voice in a video
- Interview members of the public
- Film staffers from other agencies
- Collect submissions for a video contest
So be smart, and use this release form BEFORE you start shooting and file it away. You may never need to use it, but you’ll never have to take down a video ever again.
A sample release:
Video Taping and Still Photography
I, ___________________________________________, agree to be photographed and videotaped for this production by the (agency name) without receiving compensation of any kind. I understand that this footage may be used, as deemed appropriate by (agency name), for future productions which may be viewed by public and private sector audiences.
Title of Production_________________________________
Office of Communications and Marketing
For more information: