Video content has gained an incredible amount of popularity in the past few years. This format has taken various forms, one of them being video blogs, better known as vlogs. This particular type of content, because of its relationship with the public sphere, creates a certain number of legal issues every video blogger should be aware of.
This post is meant to be taken as general information, not legal advice. Contact an attorney if you have any questions regarding the legality of your video blogs.
Background images When you are editing your video, it is important to go through every shot to make sure you are not infringing on anyone’s work. When artists create content, they have the exclusive right to reproduce it. Reproduction not only includes the right to make a physical copy of a work but also taking a picture or filming it. If you have filmed scenes with art in the background, you should take some time to figure out whether or not they are in the public domain. If they are not, you should be asking the artist for their permission to include their work in your video. An easy way to avoid this problematic would be to pick locations in which you know there will not be any art or simply blur the works during the editing process.
Music licensing If you have decided to add songs to your video in the editing process, you need to make sure you get permission from every single artist, unless the songs are in the public domain. If you are making a series and plan on using the same song in every single video (for the intro, for instance), it might be interesting to look into getting a license that would either cover a specific number of videos or a specific period of time. If these options don’t sound appealing to you, you could also use royalty free websites to find the music of your choice. As for incidental music in your videos (music that ended up in your video by mistake or without you necessarily wanting it to be there in the first place), you should spend some time, just like with background images, looking into your different shots during the editing process to avoid any infringement on someone else’s music.
Releases Even though you, as a video blogger, are allowed to film in public, you should be conscious of the people who end up being in your video and whether or not they wish to be in it. Of course, it would be completely inefficient to ask every single person that ends up in your content to sign a release, but you should at least make sure individuals with more prominent roles (people you are interviewing, for instance) give you written permission for you to use the content they are featured in. A release should include, amongst other things, what elements will be featured (audio, image, etc), what the content will be used for as well as where it will be displayed.
Hiring a video editor If you’re short on time and wish to hire a video editor, there are a couple of things you should be putting in a work agreement, such as: 1) how much you will be paying them (by video or per hour), 2) whether or not you want to hire your video editor as an independent contractor or as an employee (depending on what your current work situation is), and 3) who will own the intellectual property rights over the edited content. Of course, in this scenario, you will obviously want to keep your IP rights over the videos, but might want to allow the video editor to share your content as part of their work portfolio (by giving them a license to do so). It would also be fair to credit the video editor in the description bar.
Promoting products We have previously discussed the Federal Trade Commission guidelines here at Law on the Runway (you can read our influencer marketing campaign post right here as well as our post on native advertising here) and of course, these guidelines are also applicable in the context of a video. If you were paid to talk about a certain product, to showcase said product, or were sent a product for free in exchange of exposure, you need to mention it. If you’re dedicating an entire video to a product, it would be good to add something along the lines of “AD” at the end of the video’s title. If you’re not, you should still mention that you were compensated and how you were compensated in the video’s description bar as well as during the video itself. Moreover, if you have affiliate links that allow you to get a commission every time someone makes a purchase after clicking on them, that is something you should be making clear as well to your audience. The essential here is to disclose your relationship with brands in a clear and obvious way.
As with all Law on the Runway posts, please use this as general information, not as legal advice. If you have any questions, you may email firstname.lastname@example.org.