A release form is a document that allows a person to use someone else’ s name, photograph, voice, or video recording for commercial purposes. In simple terms, anything done to make money is a business purpose. The idea behind a release form is to make sure that the person has allowed his name, image, or video to be used for that particular purpose. It prevents someone from using a person’s ‘likeness’ (ability to recognize a person) against their wishes.
So, if you intend to record a person’s video and use it later to market your business, you will have to take his consent for both the acts- for recording him and using the video then. Permission for using the video is obtained with the help of a video release form. It states that the person appearing in the video has allowed you to use his video recording, image stills from the video, and voice for commercial purposes.
Who Needs a Video Release Form?
Generally, any party using a video for its commercial benefit will need a video release form signed by the people who appear in the video. The most common entities that use this form are media companies, movie makers, websites, and online video creators. If you are a business that wants to use a video of its employees for a promotional activity, you will first have to get the consent of the employees who appear in the video. Similarly, if you create videos for online platforms such as YouTube, you will need the subjects who appear in your video to sign a video consent form stating that they have allowed you to use their video for your commercial use.
It is important to note that you need to release forms for video if you are going to use them for commercial purposes. However, if you record videos for informational purposes, you do not need the form. For example, you are a correspondent with a news channel, and you record videos to be later shown on the channel. You do not need to get a release form signed by the people who appear in the video because it is for informational use.
Purpose of Release Forms for Video
A video consent form is essentially an agreement between the subjects of the video and the person wanting to use it for his own needs. The primary purpose of the form is to safeguard the rights of the parties involved. It protects the privacy rights of people who appear in a video. By giving them the power to authorize the use of the video, it ensures that their face is not used without their consent. It also gives them control over how the video can be used. They can prescribe the purpose for which it can (and cannot) be used.
On the other hand, it also protects the people who wish to use video lawfully. If a person has obtained permission from the people to use the video, he cannot later be sued for using it. The form will act as evidence that all necessary approvals have been taken. Since it is a contract, it can be tailored according to the requirements of the parties. However, it has to comply with the relevant state and federal laws.
Contents of a Video Consent Form
A standard video release form contains the following terms:
- Names of the parties- the releasor and the person (or company) who is getting the rights to use the video
- Description of the video
- Declaration of consent to use the video for commercial or non-commercial use
- Compensation, if any, to be paid to the subject of the video
- Waiver of rights by the releasor to sue the person for using the video
- Signature of both the parties and the date of the agreement
Most video release form templates that are available online have these terms. You may add other provisions, such as the consequences of violating the terms of the form. You can make it valid for an indefinite period. This will ensure that it does not terminate after some time, and you can continue to use the video as per the terms of the agreement.
How to Draft a Video Release Form?
You may refer to a sample video release form while drafting. Ensure that you have researched on privacy laws and how you can avoid breaking them. When preparing the clauses, keep in mind the following:
- Write the legal names of the parties, not nicknames. If the video is to be used by a company, mention its complete name. Add contact details to avoid any confusion about the parties’ identity.
- Describe which video is the subject of the form. To be clear, mention the date and place of shooting the video.
- An essential term in the form is that which gives consent to use the video for commercial or non-commercial use. It should mention how the video will be used- whether for promotional purposes, on social media or in official communication. Also, state if the form also covers the use of still images of the video.
- If there is any payment to be made to the people in the video, mention it clearly in the form. The amount, time, and mode of payment should be specified in clear terms to avoid any misunderstanding.
- To prevent any legal trouble, state that the releasor will not pursue any legal action against the other party for using the video. By signing the form, he waives his right to sue him for using the video under the terms of this agreement.
- Make sure to check if the parties have signed the form, and the date of signing is mentioned. If the concerned person is a minor under the law, ensure that his legal guardian signs the form on his behalf.
If you are the party using the video, you can also draft this form with the help of a video recording consent form template. Keep the above points in mind and customize the template to suit your purpose. Discuss the terms with the client. Convey to them that you are on the same page and want to protect each others’ rights.
[Also Read: Photo Release Form]
Benefits of a Video Release Form
Even though a video recording consent form is a relatively simple document, it has some benefits.
- It serves as legal proof that you have taken the permission of the people in the video to use it as per the terms mentioned in the form.
- It prevents people from suing you for using the video as it is evidence of the consent of the people concerned.
- It covers the use of still photographs from the video. So a party can use the video as well as its scenes as photographs.
- It builds trust with the releasor as it indicates the seriousness of the other party to use the video legally.
- As a subject in a video, you can control how the other party uses it. For instance, you can permit him to use it only for promotional activities on websites or in official posts on social media.
A drawback of this form is that people appearing in the video lose their rights in it. They cannot raise privacy claims after signing the form.
What Happens In Case of Violation?
Since the form is a contract, its violation will be treated as a breach. The parties can include a provision to this effect in the form. It can prescribe the number of damages(1) to be paid by the party committing the breach to the other party. If there is no such clause in the form, the court will look into the loss suffered by the party and then decide accordingly. Since laws are different in different states, the penalty will also vary.
If there is no video release form, the person who used the video can be tried for violating the privacy of the people who appear in it. This can carry a more substantial punishment than a fine.
A video release form is essential to use a video legally. While it is a relatively simple document to draft, you may consult a lawyer to make sure that it is compliant with the law. Having this form in place protects both parties from violation of their rights. Before getting the releasor to sign the form, it is essential to sit and discuss it with them. This shows that they are not being manipulated to surrender their rights. Instead, there is written proof as to how the video that features them will be used. It avoids legal hassles and saves time and money.