Going back for location/talent releases

by Matt

Question: I put together a high school basketball webisode/documentary a few years ago on a specific team and ran it on the Internet. I'd like to re-package it as a documentary, but I'm missing some paperwork that hopefully can be edited around.

I acquired talent releases (from ALL interviewed people) and location releases (from MOST places). I DID NOT get releases from some public and private high school gyms and some college gyms for some of the games etc. At the time and even now I was not sure who should sign the location release. (I also wish I was not one-man banding the whole deal). Are those locations FAIR USE in terms of showing video of the opposing team/players?

I also have video of some famous college coaches. I did not interview them but the players talk about them. Do I need releases from them even though they were in a gym that I DID have a location release for?

Basically, I can probably work around some of the location issues by editing out parts, but if I went back to get a release (this was shot 4 years ago), then who would I see? Also, is a release needed for known/famous people who are not interviewed, but essentially in the crowd watching a game or practice? Thank you.

Answer: Thanks for your question, Matt. It sounds to me like you've got your bases covered. I'm assuming you're not slandering anyone in your film? Pretty straight-forward sports documentary?

I am not a lawyer and without seeing your final program I could not say for sure, but based on what you've described I would say you are in the clear to use what you've got. Yes, even the famous people. And most definitely the coaches where you had the releases. If your documentary ends up getting picked up for a national broadcast, they will require Errors and Omissions Insurance, which would cover any potential legal issues.

Matt, I might suggest also posting this question over at the Creative Cow forum for additional feedback.

Totally understand the "one man band" thing.. Hang in there and best of luck with your project.

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Copyright, Consent and Legal Issues for Documentary Filmmaking

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