We sometimes get tired of filming in our lack luster bedrooms. When this drought of creativity occurs, its only natural that we venture outside to create more content. Say you walk into a nearby mall, start filming on a camera, and then out of nowhere a mall cop appears and decides to throw you out and delete everything you’ve just recorded. What do you do? Should you have been recording there in the first place? Is the mall cop allowed to delete your film? Next time before you go out to make your next hit video, consider what rights and liberties you have to have.
Before I unleash the secret to shooting/filming wherever and whenever, keep in mind that we are Rockstars –not legal attorneys. The following is not and should not be taken as legal advice. If you run into issues with the law, please consult a lawyer.
You and Your Camera’s Rights
1. Here’s a golden rule: when you are in a public space you can shoot/film anything that’s in plain view. This includes:
- Commercial/federal/residential buildings, transportation facilities, bridges, and other infrastructure.
- Accidents, protests, criminal activity, non-criminal activity, webisode scenes.
- Random people, celebrities, YouTube celebrities, law enforcement, cats, trolls, even Marty Mcfly and his Delorean if they poofed out of nowhere and into plain view.
2. If you are on private property, the property owner(s) may set their own rules regarding filming and photo stills. If they prohibit the use the cameras, you must honor their request. If you choose ignore their rules, they have the right to remove you from the property and/or have you arrested for trespassing.
However, it never hurts to try asking the property owners for permission first.
3. You can photograph/film random people in public without their consent in public, unless there are strong signs that they want to keep their privacy.
4. You are not obligated to answer what you making images of, why you are doing, nor do you have to disclosure your identity (except in the case that a law enforcement officer is inquiring.)
5. No one is allowed to confiscate your camera or footage under any circumstances. Nor can they delete/view the footage. If your camera and/or footage is taken away by force, the party can be liable for theft and coercion. Even law enforcers are required to have a warrant or a reasonable suspicion of crime before they can confiscate your items.
If someone stops you:
- Don’t panic, just be respectful and polite. Use good judgement and don’t escalate the situation.
- If the person continuously harasses you or becomes a physical threat consider contacting authorities. Or if you don’t want law enforcement getting involved, go above the person’s head head, contact their supervisor or their company’s public relations department.
- Remember your camera and its footage are your personal property. In the case that they both get taken away you have the right to take legal or civil actions against the person. Just like when you get into a car accident, make sure you get the person’s legal name, employer, and the legals grounds which they use to claim your camera.
Source: American Civil Liberties Union