Legal Question in Civil Litigation in California

I record a video in a public place and post it on YouTube, not commercially, not for direct financial gain (although yes, I could benefit indirectly from just popularity if the video becomes famous). The people are not deliberately portrayed in a negative way, and the scenes are not altered to make things appear differently than they are. The people are identifiable to someone who knows them, although I do not explicitly identify them.

I'm interested in knowing what sort of risks I'm getting into with regards to things like libel, slander, "violation of privacy" (if that's a legal thing), just from posting such a video. Obviously, millions of such videos are posted every day on YouTube, I don't know how many of them end up with such a problem, my perception is that the courts are not clogged by such cases, but I don't really know.

Situation 1:

A public parade/carnival/event on a public street. I make a non-commercial documentary video about it, as a hobby, and post on YouTube.

Any risk from: People who happen to be fellow spectators in the crowd? People who are in the parade? Street vendors added to my video as background "color"?

Situation 2:

I make a video strolling the busy street of a large city, taking in the whole scene, crowds, traffic, panhandlers, street vendors, storefronts, etc. During part of the video I hop onto a public bus then hop off and continue the walk. The camera is small and generally not noticeable and/or is hidden, so it is not obvious to anyone that I am doing it. I post it on YouTube for all to see.

Situation 3:

I post a video on YouTube of a homeless person sleeping on the street. He is indeed on a public street, with no expectation of privacy. However, by posting a video of him in that situation on YouTube, am I at any risk for portraying him in that accurate, yet unflattering position, drawing attention to his plight? Similarly for anyone being portrayed in an accurate yet unflattering light, for example a drunk passed out on the street?

Asked on 7/02/13, 11:48 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Anthony Roach Law Office of Anthony A. Roach

The pros get releases. If you are using a hidden camera, I think you are going to be asking for trouble sooner or later.

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Answered on 7/03/13, 3:08 pm

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