Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Protect Your Image! Don't Sign Your TV Footage Away Forever

A friend of mine was surprised this week to see footage of herself in a promo for an upcoming TV segment. Surprised because she had declined to be interviewed for the story...and because the footage in the promo was more than 5 years old.

She instantly became nervous about how her comments from 5 years ago could be sliced into the story to seem current. Another friend said it had also happened to her - she had organised for her young son to take part in a 'sleep issues' segment on a nightly current affairs show, and now anytime there is a 'sleep story', images of her son flash up...repeatedly for the past 6 years.

This highlights the need for people and PRs to properly protect themselves and their clients from losing control over footage. Here's some tips how...

With thanks to Lauren Miller Cilento & Therasa Jazowy from HMMG for this advice:

* Regardless, and particularly in the digital age, individuals need to be aware of their image and how it is used.  Whether it’s a photo taken from their Twitter feed or Facebook, or footage from an interview they willingly took part in, we need to make sure that they understand how and when their image, in whatever format, will be used.

* Have a clear understanding of the ‘terms of engagement’ i.e. what the story is about, when it will be shown etc.

* You must have a contract/release agreement with the program/network or digital outlet concerned and you must keep a copy of it.

* A release agreement typically 'releases' the footage to the network, and you therefore assign all your rights to it over to the network. Even if there is a signed release or similar agreement, the individual may not realise that their image could be used at any point down the track as it is now owned by that media organisation.

* Any release agreement should specify that it is for broadcast once only (include the date if possible) and acknowledge that the full story is often archived online on the program’s website.

* Make sure the release covers the usage on any filmed footage, PLUS any footage or stills you provide for the shoot for once only broadcast.

* Make sure you understand the terms of any agreement and seek advice. If any terms are unclear and you cannot afford legal advice ask the producer/relevant contact to clarify the points or note what you are and are not comfortable with.

* Keep in mind if your children are featured in the story how it might impact them if the footage is reused at a later date in a similar or totally unrelated story.

* Unless there is an agreement in place that the program/network is required to seek the individual’s permission for further use of the footage/image, then it can be very difficult to demand that the program/network cease using that footage/image.

* Exceptions to this may be possible where the individual has significant profile, professional reputation or similar and longer format agreements are put in place.

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