Live streaming has been around for a number of years. But until Meerkat and Periscope we didn’t have a very portable way to live stream video. There was Google Hangouts, which is a live streaming service, but the mobile app didn’t really make it easy for mobile and active use. You could record short video and share them, a la Vine and Instagram Video. But there wasn’t a viable option for being out in public, your office, at home, or pretty much anywhere you wanted, and share audio and video of what was going on around you.
For those who aren’t exactly sure what live streaming is, it’s basically the ability to broadcast audio and video as it happens. It’s like having your own channel. Any time you want to “go live” you can.
As with any new technology or platform, there are bound to be legal concerns. That’s no different when it comes to live streaming. When it wasn’t portable, it wasn’t as prolific. Still there were legal issues with regard to trademark and copyright, but the learning curve for the legal issues wasn’t as steep since those using the live stream service were often business people who had a basic understanding of these legal issues.
Now that live streaming is available to anyone in the world with a smartphone, the legal concerns are much more relevant to the average person. There are so many great uses for live streaming. The key, though, is that for commercial use there are significant legal concerns. And even for personal use, the legal concerns should be taken into consideration. While the somewhat fleeting nature of live streaming may make you think copyright isn’t much of a concern, there is nothing in the law that say how long a copyrighted work must be used without permission or exception to qualify for infringement. Add to that the ability to rebroadcast, or upload to a more static video service such as YouTube, and the temporary aspect of live streaming goes away.
Key Legal Concerns With Live streaming
Copyrighted Content – Meerkat and Periscope, as well as Google Hangouts, have Terms of Service that prohibit users from violating the copyright of others. This is part of the Safe Haven provisions of the DMCA and is more for their protection than yours. If you, as a user, violate the copyright of someone then it’s on you, not them. This means, of course, that using copyrighted music in the background would be a violation of the TOS, in addition to any copyright.But there are other copyright issues that many don’t think about, such as the copyright of artwork, performances, written materials, and architectural works. Incorporating a copyright work into your live stream exposes you to liability you may not have intended. Ever wonder why on some TV shows the artwork on the walls is pixellated? It’s because it’s a copyrighted work and they didn’t get permission. That’s easy to do when you have the ability to edit. However, with live streaming there is no ability to edit and if you infringe someone’s copyright there can be consequences you didn’t anticipate.
Commercial or Private Use – if your live streaming project is for commercial use there are a host of legal concerns. Not only are there copyright, trademark, and trade secret issues to be aware of, but you’ll need to know about privacy laws, publicity rights, loitering or trespassing, and location releases.If you’ve ever been out and have seen a movie, video, or ad being filmed or shot you likely recall there being an area that was cordoned off. They do that for a number of reasons, one of which is to make sure there are no random people in the background. It’s why when extras are needed for crowd scenes or background they hire people. Because when you hire people you can get them to sign away their rights to sue you.When it comes to trademarks and live streaming for commercial use, you really do need to learn how to stay on the right side of the law. The basic rule is that unless you own the trademark, it should not be visible in your live stream. Of course, there are exceptions, but for the most part if you’re live streaming for commercial use avoid any third-party trademarks.
Location Concerns – regardless of whether you’re live streaming for personal or commercial use, you have to make sure you have the right to be where you’re filming. If you’re on your own property, that makes it simple.However, if you’re in public or on private property there are legal concerns to manage. On public property, you’re likely safe to use the property. That’s not to say you have an absolute right. For example, the street may be public property but you can’t obstruct traffic, the courthouse is public property but there are limitations on what you can do, and your child’s public school may be public but they also have the right to limit your actions for the safety and security of others.For commercial live streaming many cities require a permit, so think about your use. If you’re an influencer and your live streaming is sponsored you may have crossed into commercial use and could be subject to those additional requirements.Trespassing and loitering may seem like petty offenses. In today’s world, though, you’ll want to be aware of these things. If you need to get permission, it’s always best to get permission in writing. Keep in mind, though, that permission to physically be on the property is not the same a release of rights to use the property in your live stream.
Privacy and Right of Publicity – This ties in with Commercial vs. Private use as well as Location concerns. Privacy is the right to control information about you, regardless of how it’s shared. The Right of Publicity is the right to protect your name and likeness from being exploited for commercial gain. Sometimes these rights overlap, and other times one exists while the other does not. You may not have privacy rights when you shop at your favorite store, but they don’t have the right to use your name or likeness for commercial gain. Privacy and Rights of Publicity are state law matters, which adds to the confusion because some states are more lenient than others. If you are broadcasting your live stream from a public space, and are doing so for commercial purposes, you may find yourself in legal hot water if you do not obtain consent from people who are captured during your broadcast.This is a very broad definition of commercial, too. Don’t just think of big brands. Commercial purpose would include influencers who are being paid to live stream; social media professionals who are live streaming to sell their goods or services; musicians/artists/authors broadcasting in an effort to sell their goods or services; and a host of other situations. If you’re live streaming solely for personal use, your main concern will be the privacy rights of others. Whether you’re in a public or private setting, there are a variety of privacy rights you need to be aware of. It makes sense not to live stream in the public bathroom, but given the number of people taking photos (which I’m going to assume are selfies, because otherwise I’ll freak out) in public bathrooms I’m not so sure everyone understands the privacy rights of a public bathroom. If you’re at a public event like a music festival, state fair, or marathon evaluate your surroundings so you’re not right in front of the port-a-potties. They may be in “the public” but there is an expectation of privacy. And that’s the magic phrase – “expectation of privacy”. If the average person would have an expectation of privacy, even if they are in public, then live streaming in that area should be off-limits.
Disclosure – For corporate brands on their own channel, it’s pretty obvious most of the time since the brand isn’t a person. It’s more like an infomercial. But just like an infomercial, there are FTC laws related to truth in advertising that need to be considered. If a celebrity, influencer, brand ambassador, or the like is “taking over” the brand’s live stream viewers needs to be aware that the person is a paid endorser. Same thing for influencers. If you’re doing a sponsored live stream, disclosure needs to be made. Exactly how is not explicitly known. Like much of social media, the logistics of FTC disclosure is a bit hit and miss. Ultimately, though, you’re responsible for making sure viewers know that what they’re watching is some type of paid content. Whether you call it sponsored, advertorial, native advertising, marketing, or plain ol’ advertising it should be very clear to the audience that the content is there because of a business relationship.
While live streaming is new, shooting video is not. Many of the same legal concerns related to making a commercial video relate to live streaming. In addition to the above, if your product or services is one that is regulated you’ll want to consider those as well. For example, the FDA has requirements and limitations regarding claims for food, drugs, and supplements. Various government agencies monitor claims related to the medical, legal, and financial professions. And finally, don’t forget safety. When live streaming in public you may be moving around so be careful. And, of course never live stream while driving.
I hope this shed light on some of the legal concerns you should consider when live streaming, especially for business. Live streaming can be a very engaging way to market and sell your products, services, or business. But just like other aspects of running a business, you need to consider the legal issue before starting your live stream.
We organise philosophical lectures of our teacher in various states. The main subject of the video is the teacher himself. We have permission from him to webcast the talk. If we do a live webcast on youtube of a lecture that is open to public, free of cost. No tickets sold. Would it be an issue to show audience shots every few minutes for a few seconds. The stream is not monitized in any way. It is available for free for a few weeks.
In the US, the general principal is that there is no expectation of privacy when one is out in public. Additional issues arise due to publicity rights when an individual’s image is used for commercial gain. Though public, often event-holders will obtain a release from attendants because they do not know specifically how any footage will be used. Live streaming is relatively new and the laws regarding this new form of sharing must be woven with laws that likely did not contemplate this technology. Out of an abundance of caution it’s often best to obtain permission, if that is possible.
I work in a small college’s music department. We would like to live stream student and faculty concerts. I am not sure how to get the proper copyright permission to do this.
Hi Elaine, usually music departments have reproduction or mechanical licenses with the music licensing agencies (i.e., ASCAP, BMI) because the school handles a lot of music. Some also have public performance licenses. You’ll definitely want to research what, if any, licenses your department or college already has. If you’re not sure, you can try contacting BMI or ASCAP directly and have them check if your school is a licensee.
The website for BMI is – http://www.bmi.com/licensing/entry/types_of_copyrights
The website for ASCAP is – https://www.ascap.com/music-users
There are over 50 music licensing companies, but these are the two largest. Hope this helps.
so if the school has performance rights and licensing from BMI/ASCAP they are OK to live stream a performance of the musical performance?
Justin, you need to review your license to see if it permits live streaming. BMI/ASCAP licenses your school has purchased may or may not have included authorization for live streaming. It all depends on for what the school has paid to obtain rights.
Thanks for the post! My question is for churches who live stream their services and are recorded for playback. Are there any legal concerns? Would any notice or sign need to be posted anywhere?
Phil, there are definitely legal concerns when livestreaming events. While the church may feel that it’s their facility and their event they can do as they wish, someone who enters the sanctuary may believe, right or wrong, there is a level of privacy. It would be pretty easy to provide a disclosure and give attendees the option to to enter if they didn’t wish to be filmed. There are some locations that I’m aware of the have areas where people would not be filmed. This has been beneficial for children with families. Lots of options to reduce and/or eliminate potential liability with regard to livestreaming.
Is live streaming notice need to be posted in the church. give an examples.
Live streaming a church service may not necessarily need a notice since there is no expectation of privacy in public places. However, houses of worship often are given special considerations which is why many will provide a courtesy notice. Some even set up areas that are not visible in the live stream for those worshipers who prefer not to be visible.
Hi do you have to give out consent forms to people when live during live performance in small hospitality business
There are various ways to obtain consent from an individual to use their image in a live performance. For example, when a comedian is taping before a live audience to use footage on a tv show the authorization may be on the ticket or there may be signs at all entrances. The comedian’s team likely would have consulted with their attorney to obtain the best way to gain the appropriate permission.
If I were to livestream while driving for a rideshare company would I need release forms signed or is agreement via camera enough to pass legality?
I’m not sure what legal limitations are in the rideshare agreement as a driver that could affect your liability under their agreement. While a passenger may not have an expectation of privacy in a hired vehicle, the rideshare user agreement may offer the rider some additional protections. Before doing something like this you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney to understand your rights and potential liability.
First off…Wow, what a well knowledge and insight here. Much appreciated. I have a video production company and was aware of a lot of this but needed to know more about the mechanical licenses. I am registered with BMI and need to get more info on the streaming side of things because I’ve only submitted new works for custom productions for clients.
Any advice on that? We get quite a few requests for people to integrate a favorite song into their stream and we do our best to direct them to our own produced songs/works.
David, it would be best to contact the licensing agency for the song you want to incorporate to find out how they handle use in a commercial livestream program. The bigger agencies, like BMI, are developing protocols and working to establish industry-wide standards.
My husband who is mentally ill will start issues with me and when I get upset he starts putting me on live Facebook live streaming or he’ll catch me when I’ve just woken up and I look horrible this is not as a joke it’s to be mean and vindictive is there anything that I can do as far as the law goes?
State (and Federal) laws regarding privacy rights cover use of material gained from filming or photographing an individual in a place where that individual has an expectation of privacy. You may want to contact knowledgeable legal counsel in your area to determine your rights and what options may be available to you.
Are there any laws concerning a spouse that is recording you and live streaming you on Facebook without your permission? I have a serious situation with a man who has treated me horrible for years that I’m trying to divorce and he’s mentally ill to top it off so he can be very nasty he waits until I can’t take it anymore and I lose my cool and then that’s when he starts to video me he also will pick times like when I wake up in the morning and I don’t look my best and put me on video live stream on an account that we share just to embarrass me. He’s not doing this to be funny he’s doing this to be mean. As of now I have him out of my home but I need to find out if there’s anything that I can do as far as the law goes for him doing this to me?
It sounds like you may need to seek legal counsel or speak with someone who can provide guidance with regard to your domestic situation. Generally, filming or photographing someone in an area where there is an expectation of privacy (i.e., a bathroom, a locker room, a bedroom) is a violation of privacy laws. Further distributing those images or video may create other legal concerns.
Hello, so I’m going to be doing some 360 degree videos for a restraunt for their events. Is clarifying on the ticket and posters around the restaurant enough legally for live streaming and getting footage for ads?
Often larger events will include what is known in the industry as a crowd model release to give people in attendance notice that by being present they’re giving up specified rights. Even if there is no expectation of privacy because of the nature of the public event, when it’s impractical to obtain signed waivers from every person these crowd model releases posted on entry tickets, at the entrance of the venue in a very conspicuous location, throughout the venue, etc. can be sufficient notice that by being in attendance they are waiving certain rights. These types of releases do not apply to third-parties, so it’s important to understand who can do what with the photos/video.
Is it okay for someone to live stream images of my child @ her kindergarten graduation, without my consent?
This is an excellent question. Many school districts have not really addressed the use of live streaming on campus. Most don’t have issues with taking photos or videos at school events and rarely even make mention of being careful not to post photos of other children. Broadcasting of school events, especially those that are not open to the public, may present safety risks for some kids if the location is made public and schools that are aware of these risks should establish rules to protect the safety of all kids. To date, most of the discussions have focused on what the schools need to do and very little on educating parents or visitors of the rights of others. Photographing and filming people in public or where there is no expectation of privacy is generally OK. However, at schools there is a great deal of protection of student privacy so it’s likely just a matter of time before we start hearing and seeing more discussions around what schools are doing with regard to live streaming at on-campus events.
Liberty bells breaks (they have u pay them to pick teams for sports cards via paypal then if a nice card comes up that’s on ur team, they safely protect and mail the card(s) sorta like gambling…..this one FB live user that afterwards posts his company’s videos on YouTube, seemingly doesn’t like me, I hit a big football card and he never shipped. Basically threw me a middle finger and ripped me off… what laws is he breaking. LIBERTYBELLBREAKS.COM
Marketing and promotions are covered by both state and federal laws regarding truth in advertising. If you feel that your rights were violated or that the company is violating state or federal laws there’s nothing stopping you from reporting the violation.
State violations – state attorney where you live, where the company is incorporated, and where the company has an office
Federal violations – FTC consumer complaint form
Hello Sara what i just went through is inspiring, well i want to own a public streaming service in my region,to stream big event,government programs,entertainment and advertisement accross my country but how can i go around that?
Public live stream services are relatively new and many countries do not have laws with regard to how a public platform handles live streaming. While the platform may be protected by safe harbor-type laws, often that requires litigation to settle. For example, Facebook has come under fire for not immediately removing live streams of people dying by suicide or engaging in criminal acts. So far FB has not been held liable. However, its had to expend significant resources defending itself.
Amazing piece, very insightful.. thank you.
One quick question if I may..
If a band decides to Live Stream to Facebook Live or YouTube Live (or both)
and they play music that they wrote, plus a couple songs they didn’t write (cover versions).. is there an obligation or any known issue regarding the broadcast of commercially available music? Meaning that I know YouTube scans for music that may be copyrighted and will remove from their site with a notice of potential copyright breech. I have heard of DJ sets that were being broadcast live to Facebook Live being shut down due to copyright breech. To your knowledge, has there been any formal discussion regarding this subject?
Thanks for your time.
Excellent question, Tim. Music rights are very complex and the three main licensing companies are very vigilant in protecting the rights of their owners. Any music that is covered by copyright that is performed for the public without the proper license could open up the performer to liability. The social media platforms likely would be able to avoid liability under Safe Harbor provisions. The individual or business account holder would not be covered by safe harbor provisions and could be held liable for copyright violation. Bands and DJs are often covered by the license the venue holds, but the further live stream would not be covered by that license unless it is the venue that is live streaming and their license covers that type of public performance. There is a lot more to this, but this should get you started on further research.
What if I am live streaming from my church office, with all my purchased library books in the background? Would that be problem? I am also intending to use Facebook live to record my sermons and post them on youtube. If I do use Facebook live to record the entire service while recording only those who are leading the service on stage (who consented to be recorded), do I need to let visitors and those in the audience (though not on camera, but only on audio through singing or reading scriptures) know that we are recording live? And do I need permission from them (though they are not in the video) to broadcast?
This web page has helped me much, thank you for this service.
Glad to hear may articles are helpful. Showing a library full of books would not raise a copyright issue. The books may be covered by copyright individually, but showing the spine of the book does not violate the exclusive rights under US copyright law. Whenever an event is recorded live, it’s always good to let the audience know so if they don’t want to be recorded they can choose not to attend. There are releases that can be created and put by the entrance letting people know that if they enter they are giving permission. If children will be photographed, videotaped, or on the livestream the parent/guardian should be aware and provide a written release. You may wish to search within your church community or speak with other clergy within your religious sect and see if there are best practices.
All the best!
What if you’re streaming a music concert on social media? Consumers do this all the time. Are there concerns with this?
Often it is a violation of the terms listed on the ticket to live stream a concert and that can result from being requested to leave the venue. Live streams from people in attendance are often poor quality and so many are doing it that venue management and promoters often don’t do anything. But there are definitely legal concerns, especially if the live stream is behind a paywall.
If someone broadcasted live. Is it illegal to repost the broadcast somewhere else?
This raises a number of questions, the first of which would be determining what platform the live broadcast is on and where would the repost be place and what format would that take. Sharing a link on Twitter to a FB live has one set of concerns, which are clearly different from a live television or television-equivalent broadcast which has the replay in its entirety posted on a different platform. There are too many questions that need answers before knowing if a repost is or is not legal.
Hello Sara, this is an amazing piece of knowledge. Thanks for sharing.
I might be facing a private-commercial situation where I would like to have your opinion.
My company sells “sales training”, on video (online). We sell this to individuals (typically sales professionals that want to improve their abilities to sell) and to companies too (companies that hire our training services, so we develop ad-hoc videos for them). But … sales training can be maximized if sales coaching is added to the video lessons. Basically, sales coaching is the process of observing the sales professional while he/she interacts with a customer…and then, privately having a conversation and giving feedback to him/her.
When you are, let´s say, in the same city, sales coaching is easy: you meet the sales professional and you both go visit (or receive) the customer. By doing that you can observe the professional and then have the coaching …
But …we want to do this by distance with sales professionals in other cities (across the country). We are thinking about having the sales professional record his conversation with the customer, just for the purposes of later sharing it with us and allowing us to coach and feedback him/her. There will be no public disclosure of the recording of the conversation between the customer and the sales professional. Only the coach could access the recording as it is a key piece of the coaching process.
What do you think about this practice? Do we need to let the customer know he is being recorded even though his conversation -between the sales professional and him/her- will never go public?
In the US, there are laws related to hidden camera recording of individuals in their workplace. In addition, many businesses have rules in place about recording on their property. You should contact legal counsel knowledgeable in this area to determine your legal risks.
The local bar down the street streams “live” NCAA football on ESPN3 without paying any establishment fees etc. Is this legal? The bar’s owner has a laptop in the center of the establishment and cable wires plugged into each television (about six tv’s). Streaming the football games on his personal account (not the bars) plus profiting from liquor and food sales with paying a dime to ESPN, this seems to me to be illegal, is it?
If this is illegal, how can the FCC or whomever shut this streaming down? It is not fair for other establishments to pay for this type of service when this bar does not!
Sorry, meant to say “without paying a dime”
This isn’t so much an FCC issue as it is a broadcast services issue. Cable and satellite providers have commercial accounts for business establishments and using a personal account in a commercial establishment is a violation of the account terms. There are also copyright infringement issues but that would be with the copyright holder (in your scenario, the NCAA team). However, the channel operator may have individual rights they can pursue but the various broadcast agreements can complicate it with regard to this conversation. Many cable and satellite companies have information on their website to report theft of cable/satellite service.
If your at a free public festival and they are playing music, can you live broadcast it or no cause of all the people that might walk past as your broadcasting?
Taking photos or videos of individuals in public is usually protected and not deemed a violation of a person’s privacy rights. Legal issues related to livestreaming a public performance tend to focus on the copyright right and less on privacy rights of others in attendance. Barring unique circumstances, people attending a public performance would likely not have a strong case for privacy.
Could you please help me with finding out the right answers to several questions I have with regards to live streaming on Facebook please?! 🙂
I would like to stream on facebook episodes of some Korean series and movies which are public on Youtube.
As far as I have heard, it is allowed to stream publicly a content which is also available on Youtube, but I am not sure how true this is actually.
So, if, for instance, is it okay if I stream live an episode of series which is available on Youtube by mentioning that I do not own any rights on the streamed content, do not intend to make any money by streaming (free streaming) and also insert a link on the Youtube where people can watch the series` episodes?
Can I stream Korean movies within the same terms (by mentioning all the information specified above)?
Would it be legal if I stream Korean movies which are not available on Youtube by asigning all the copyrights to the Film Production Company with no intention to make money. My objective is to popularize the korean language, culture and films in order to make people where I am from (Romania) be more interested in Korean movies, etc.
Thank you very much and hope to hear from you soon.
Content posted to YouTube may be protected by copyright so streaming it may be a violation of that copyright. I’m not familiar with the laws of Korea or Romania so I can’t speak to what would be covered by their copyright laws. You don’t own the copyright so you can’t assign the copyright to anything. You can provide attribution to any third-party content you stream but attribution does not relieve copyright infringement.
What if someone screen records my live stream (any generic event), and others who share it online. Is it illegal?
If the underlying work (i.e., the livestream) is copyrightable, the unauthorized recording and use could likely be deemed a copyright infringement. There may be exceptions, but, generally, the copying, recording, or rebroadcasting of a copyrighted event is a violation of US copyright laws. This is why there are warnings on sports and live music broadcasts.
So i have a small youtube channel and had an idea to go into streams to ask the streamer a pretty particular question are there laws against me using the footage i get from them reaction?
Privacy laws and Personality Rights laws should be examined. Even if it’s not a privacy issue, state laws related to personality rights – the right to control one’s name/likeness – is a patchwork and may vary not only from state to state in the US but also vary from country to country.
We live in Florida and have a 12 yr old daughter that plays fastpitch softball. We also have a FB page dedicated to the team. It has been my wifes custom for many seasons now to film my daughter and her teamates in action and post to our team page after tournaments.
Recently an opposing team members parent flipped out about us possibly capturing her daughter in our videos and has threatened legal action.
Bear in mind the focus of these pictures and clips is both to highlights our kids tournaments to family and friends who reside afar and also to allow some of our team sponsors to see the team they sponsor in action.
My question is are we violating any privacy laws by posting game video on our FB page ?
The general rule is that photos and videos taken in public do not violate an individual’s right to privacy. Of course, there are exceptions and the specific circumstances of a situation may give rise to privacy rights. But, as a general rule anyone can photograph or video other people in a public setting. Often it’s what is done with those photos/video where the questions arise. Using the photo/video legally obtained in public may have use prohibitions if they are sold or if the individual has the right to control how their name/likeness is used. Many people threaten legal action but don’t follow through. If it is not a violation of Facebook terms a false takedown request could pose problems for the person filing the removal request.
We are a live streaming company that streams Conferences and Events mostly for Associations. We are hired by the Association to provide such service. If the organization is playing music at their physical event, that we subsequently stream through our platform to a virtual audience, who is responsible to have the music license, the organization, us or both? Would we be liable in any way?
The organization presenting the event is responsible for all music used within the scope of the event. As the provider of streaming services reading the contract would be very important to ensure no responsibility has been pushed off to vendors. Livestreaming rights do not necessarily come with the license for the event. All major music licensing companies have separate license fees for live streaming because it’s treated differently than a live performance at an event.
I’m planning on streaming a high school music festival that will have a number of different schools all performing non-original music. Will I need to find out if each visiting school has the proper performance rights, or just the school at which the performance is taking place?
Also, if a concert is broadcast but not recorded and made available at a later date, why can’t the broadcast be considered an extension of the performance?
Ryan, interesting question:
Live streaming high school music festival: Unless the school or venue has the appropriate license to broadcast the performance over the internet, live streaming without such a license could likely be copyright infringement. High school performances, while they may be public, don’t often have the license to stream or permit recording of the performance. Those type of licenses can be costly and rather than purchase them the school will prohibit that type of transmission to avoid the risk of being hit with either a copyright infringement suit or a huge bill for not having obtained the license prior to such transmission.
If there are multiple schools performing (like a marching band or choir competition) the school or venue where the live performances are taking place holds the primary responsibility for having the appropriate license.
Broadcast rights have long been held to be separate from live public performance rights. The internet has changed how information is obtained, but that doesn’t mean the laws have changed along with it. The reason the live stream broadcast can’t be considered an extension of the public performance is because the laws related to copyright say so. There really is no other reason and arguing that it shouldn’t be this way and having excellent arguments to support that position are irrelevant as long as the current law says that broadcast over audio, television, or the internet requires a license then a license is required.
There are certain exceptions and one that may apply but rarely does is if there is no commercial advantage to anyone. This rarely applies, especially with high school programs, because someone is always selling something. Whether it’s a program that was printed by a third party, concessions where the money goes to anyone other than the school, shirts, recordings, paid adjudicators, awards that were purchased, etc. it is the very rare situation that there is no commercial advantage to anyone.
I have just discovered that someone maliciously recorded my live stream on a dating app and then uploaded that recording on YouTube without my consent, with harassing captions and misleading title. I have contacted YouTube to remove that video but they said the user does not violate any of their guidelines, but a quick check on their policy revealed that the user not just violated one but at least four of what they describe as harassment. https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2802268
What can I do?
Please help. I’m in a lot of distress right now 🙁
See my reply.
The recording and uploading without permission of a copyrighted work raises copyright infringement concerns. In addition, in most states individuals have the right to control how their likeness is used under right of publicity laws. I’m not in a position to help you with regard to your dispute. You may with to continue to reach out to YouTube to state your case.
Sara you have a great webpage, my question is I was watching a ufc fight the other nite on facebooklive , it was a ppv but some guys in ND were showing it on their i-phone and some people commented in for them to turn the sound on but others commented in and said that with the sound off it was legal to show it, with the sound on it would make it illegal . Can you clear this up for me,thanks.
From the perspective of the UFC’s attorney’s I’m sure they take the position that their copyright to the broadcast extends to both the video and audio portions. While copyright law may require certain types of licenses for only video or only audio, when it comes to streaming it’s highly unlikely there are any protections under copyright law that would support the argument that it’s only video and not the synchronized audio that is being streamed. The US Copyright Act is very pro-copyright holder when that copyright holder is broadcasting or providing transmission over cable.
Hi there! Thanks for this post. I have a question regarding personal privacy and live streaming. If someone is recorded (Periscope), in their own home, without their knowledge and without their consent, can the video be used against them as evidence in a criminal case? There was no crime committed on the live stream, it’s trying to be used more as a judgement/evidence of character of the person.
While there may be an expectation of privacy in the home, if a video is created in violation of such a right, it may be admissible as evidence in a criminal case. The rules for admissibility of evidence take into account a number of different legal aspects and are often very fact specific. It would be impossible to say absolutely yes or no with regard to the admissibility of evidence, especially in a criminal case.
Hello, I am hoping to setup a website with streaming a location. What kind of lawyer should I get in contact with to help me with all the legal stuff
You would want to engage an attorney knowledgeable in copyright law related to streaming content.
I work in the sports industry and the club has recently put up security cameras that send I live feed to the owner, it is a privately owned organization. This camera is filming children between the ages of 2 and 16 and as far as I’m aware the parents do not know this has been brought in and staff members do not know the reasoning for cameras. Is this legal?
Video surveillance laws vary from state to state. Video and audio surveillance legal questions often focus on who is the subject of such surveillance, what is the purpose, is there disclosure, what is the location of such surveillance, as well as other more nuanced questions.
Wonderful article! A group of us were recently at a public bar, and a man there was liverstreaming, and our group appeared in the background of the livestream. We asked him to stop and he wouldn’t. He was also recording audio. Was what this man was doing illegal? Thank you.
Livestreaming, in general, in public is not illegal. However, if the bar had a policy perhaps it was in violation of that policy. Recording audio may be illegal, depending on what type of audio is being recorded. Unfortunately, there are so many ‘it depends’ when it comes to the legalities of livestreaming that a very close examination of all the specific facts must be undertaken before there is a determination of whether there were any laws violated.
I can imagine it’s quite frustrating to be part of someone’s livestream when you don’t want to be. If they won’t stop recording in a private establishment it would be best to speak with management to get them to intervene on behalf of other patrons.
Simple question, and hard to find the answer. If you have an ASCAP streaming, broadcast license, can you stream to FB live?
According the the New Media License from ASCAP: Public performances of ASCAP music via most third-party players are licensed through arrangements between the third parties and ASCAP and, therefore, sites or services utilizing such players do not require additional licensing by ASCAP. If you are unsure whether the player you use is already licensed by ASCAP and/or if your site or service is performing ASCAP music through other means, you should contact ASCAP. Facebook does have licenses with many of the music license companies, but those licenses don’t usually extend to users streaming content. Definitely something you’d want to verify specifically so you don’t lose your license and/or FB Page.
Further to my previous comment just posted concerning streaming copy protected music to Facebook Live and having a broadcast, digital streaming license from ASCAP:
My Source: Facebook help page. Notice in paragraph two, the sentence that states “if you’ve gotten permission (for example, a license)
Copyright and Posting Content on Facebook
How can I make sure the content I post to Facebook doesn’t violate copyright law?
Under Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Community Standards, you can only post content to Facebook if it doesn’t violate the intellectual property rights of another party. The best way to help make sure that the content you post to Facebook doesn’t violate copyright law is to only post content that you’ve created yourself.
You might also be able to use someone else’s content on Facebook if you’ve gotten permission (for example, a license), or if your use is covered by fair use or some other exception to copyright. It’s generally a good idea to get permission before posting content, and to get that permission in writing. Please note that Facebook can’t help you obtain permission to use copyrighted content.
Sara, does that explanation in the second paragraph pretty much cover me streaming copy-write music that falls under my ASCAP streaming license?
See prior reply.
This is very helpful! I think I know the answer already, but could I read a book that has been copyrighted aloud? It seems like that would be like a live reading at a library since it’s not saved, but I can’t imagine that it’s legal…
If a book is still covered by copyright, public display and performances are illegal without the copyright holder’s permission. Libraries often have live readings of short children’s books, not large works, and those are likely covered by fair use for a number of reasons.
This is very helpful! I think I know the answer already, but could I read a book that has been copyrighted aloud, one chapter at a time? It seems like that would be like a live reading at a library since it’s not saved anywhere, but I can’t imagine that it’s legal…
The short answer is ‘no’. If a book is still covered by copyright, public display and performances are illegal without the copyright holder’s permission. The long answer would be, it depends. There are a number of factors that could come in to play that would have such a live reading fall under an exception to copyright infringement, but a discussion of that nature is beyond the scope of this forum.
Can a news station use a clip of your live stream video to broadcast without your permission of use?
Great question, Paula. Unfortunately, the answer is ‘it depends’. News stations are often covered by Fair Use in using third-party unlicensed copyrighted works. However, the copyrighted work that is used must meet all the criteria to qualify for the Fair Use exception or the copyright holder could prevail in an infringement claim.
I am currently working on a business idea where people would pay my company to rent my emplyee who would livestreamlive whatever city they are in for the customer. What are the potential legal ramifications of this and what would my way be around them if there were any?
Your question is beyond the scope of these comments. You should speak with an attorney knowledgeable in this subject to get the advice and assistance you need.
HI Sara thank you for such an informative piece on a tricky subject. I am host of a professional conference event where we obtain written permission in advance from our speakers to audiorecord (or not) and we respectfully adhere to their wishes. We also have clear verbal and visual notification (on the conference screen several times per day) to all delegates attending the event to not film or audiorecord any of the conference sessions. However we have discovered that some individuals have filmed several conference sessions in their totality and live-streamed these recording via social media. Two of these livestreams included lectures from speakers who had declined to be recorded, even by ourselves. Could you advise?
While I can’t offer legal advice, what I can provide is information. When there is clear language at a venue or in the registration materials that recording of any kind is not allowed, the recording is a breach of that contract and the person recording can face consequences if they breach that contract. While many believe that there is an unrestricted right to film in “public”, that is not true since there are many legal reasons supporting restricting the recording in what might otherwise be considered a public space. For example, when a posted notice that recording is prohibited or when an notice is posted on an admission ticket, when an announcement is made, when one is told personally, or when a person might have an expectation that recording would not be permitted.
Depending on what a notice says, there may or may not be a copyright claim.
Just saw this post on Facebook. This is the UIL in Texas and this post was on Mason TX ISD Facebook page. Is this legal?
UIL has released information that is against all UIL rules for any event or contest, athletic or academic to be live streamed. This rule prohibits any parent, student, community member, faculty, staff or sponsor to broadcast live from any entity of social media or internet streaming including, but not limited to Facebook Live, Instagram Live, YouTube, Twitter. Live streaming is in direct violation of the UIL Rules and their agreement with their broadcast partners. Mason ISD requests all spectators of events adhere to these rules.
Thank you for your answer in advance.
UIL, though a public school governing body, can place limitations that protect the interests of their broadcast partners. UIL has, for many years, restricted the filming and broadcast rights of spectators. With the advent of these new mobile technologies, UIL, and the governing bodies of many high school programs, are now faced with having to enforce restrictions that were once not seen as a major issue because the barriers in place (expensive equipment, lack of technology) did the work for them. Now, though, broadcast partners want to have the exclusivity they were promised and with big-dollar contracts at stake, organizations like UIL now face the difficult task of enforcing what seem like very restrictive rules.
what are some rules for live streaming and how does a social media site monitors live streaming? What are the benefits and is it worth the danger of live streaming?
Your question is very broad, because live streaming presents new circumstances for the application of laws as well as social media monitoring. There are lots of benefits of live streaming – people get to experience something they couldn’t be at personally, entertainment value, informative, and so forth. The dangers, well, there are both legal and non-legal ones. Copyright issues with live streaming are a concern depending on what’s going on actively as well as what may be passive in the background. Of course there are other legal concerns such as defamation, breach of contract, invasion of privacy, and possibly criminal issues. Really, with live streaming the legal issues are as broad as with other types of performances or content sharing. How does a social media site monitor live streaming? Most have algorithms and bots, but they also rely on public reporting. Hope this helps!
We are having a discussion on Facebook now about the legalities of doing a livestream from a dog show. The club members putting on the dog show want to avoid any kind of liability that may be incurred due to a livestream being done at the show. Would this fall under the “public space” rule? Dog clubs rent the spaces they hold their shows in.
Great question. While the dog show may be conducted in a public space the question to ask is would the location where the livestream is conducted a place where there is an expectation of privacy? Further, it would be prudent to determine if the venue has any prohibitions or restrictions on live streaming. Also, you would want to be aware of any music rights that would need to be secured or if there are copyrighted materials (corporate logos, etc.) that would be restricted from visibility. It’s also important to consider that even if there is a legal basis for the live streaming, as a courtesy it is always nice to inform everyone involved (volunteers, owners, handlers, judges, etc.), as well as the attending public, that they are entering an area that is being live streamed.
Can the TV series live PD trespass with the police to capture and evading subject?
Can they broadcast my image without my permission in such circumstances?
Would this be an example of using excessive force by both the police and live PD?
If it is an example of excessive force would the fact that it was done solely for the profitability of TV ratings make both parties subject to state CO conspirator laws?
What other legal jeopardy may the parties involved be subject to for breaking the law in order to broadcast or prosecute an individual?
if some one was re-streaming a public political debate in form satire or commentary is the streamer protected is some way or fashion
Satire is not protected under US Copyright law. Commentary may be protected under fair use but it would depend on specific circumstances surround the commentary related to the re-streaming.
Would playing a television streaming service in an office break room be considered private use?
Not likely. Private use for television purposes is usually defined as in-home unless the subscription service is for commercial purposes. You would want to discuss this with the television service provider as to whether the service is for such commercial uses.
We have a group who prays in a public area that faces an abortion clinic. We live stream a video on our fabebook group while we do the prayers. This morning a women told us we were violating her privacy because our camara was facing the entrance ofthis clinic. Can you please let me know is this is correct?
Privacy laws of this nature are very complex. While, generally, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy when one is in public, there are several limitations to this general rule. You should definitely speak with knowledgeable counsel so you fully understand any limitations.
I am the head of a broadcasting club that was just started at my high school. We’ve been live streaming/broadcasting our morning announcements and the students are very involved and enjoy it. They have recently brought up the idea of taking their skills over the court and wanted to live stream a home volleyball game. What are the legal implications of this type of thing; live streaming a home game of high school sports? Does the league have a say? Does the state association that governs state play have a say? What permissions are needed if any?
Live streaming high school sports can be challenging due to regulations imposed by the district or the governing body. If you’re using a 3rd party streaming service you would need to fully understand what rights you’re giving because you may not have the right to give that streaming service those rights. Furthermore, there are potential limitations with regard to the broadcast of fans, if any one person is singled out, or even players depending on whether the stream is considered commercial. Definitely talk with school administration or even district admin since they likely control the public streaming/taking on campus.
I am an older guy, a storyteller. I run three different weekly games, and as many are doing these days, I started live streaming. I did not have the tech knowledge, so a younger guy in one of my groups created an email account for me, then built a twitch channel. We started streaming all three episodes a week and started to build a following. We are four months in, and he suddenly locks me out of all the accounts, and tells me I can only get access back if I pay him $200. There is more to the story, but I need to know if I should seek legal counsel and sue him for IP theft, as all the content are my stories, in a fantasy setting of my design? Everything is in the name of my IP, even the email and name of the Twitch account are based on my world. Do I need to file criminal charges?
Please seek knowledgeable legal counsel to evaluate your concern. As for criminal charges, you would definitely want to discuss that with legal counsel.
We would like to live stream our entire church service to a Facebook closed group and then post only the Minister’s sermon to our website.
Would the closed group still be considered a public performance (for example when singing a hymnal) for copyright law purposes?
Thank you your article.
Yes, a closed Facebook group would still be considered a public performance for copyright purposes. The religious service exemption under U.S. copyright law allows for the performance and display of copyrighted work of a religious nature during on-site religious services. The exemption applies to “the performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work or of a dramatico-musical work of a religious nature, or the display of work, in the course of services at a place of worship or other religious assembly.”
Thanks so much Ms. Hakins for such great information! We are interested in doing a streaming show on FB/Youtube talking about local news. Is it a copyright issue to read newspaper articles? What about showing them IN the video? Or even showing website articles or videos? If we add links to the original article does it alleviate copyright? Or do we need to stick to talking about it and not directly reading/showing?
This is actually a very complex questions since not all ‘newspaper articles’ are purely news and could be subject to copyright protection. Reading a newspaper article, verbatim, may be infringement but the next question is whether your use would fall under an exception such as Fair Use or Parody. Adding links to the original work does not alleviate infringement. You really should speak with a knowledgeable legal advisor to better understand your rights to use third-party works.
*Hawkins. *sigh* Silly keyboard.
I got to say Sara, you are awesome for responding to all these comments! I’m a nerd who plays video games nonstop and almost never go’s out. I decide I needed a change and so i’m going to drive all over the USA for months and live stream the whole thing or as much as I can. I’m going to a few cites, national parks that kinda thing. I know I will not be able to avoid copyrighted material. however I was hoping for some tips about what I could or should do to avoid being sued.
I wish you safe travels, Michael! And thank you for your kind words. Live streaming always presents a variety of legal issues depending on where you are and what’s happening in the background as well as what you’re showing. Unfortunately, it’s beyond these comments to provide a ‘run down’ of all the things you may encounter that could present challenges. However, just by being aware you’re likely to avoid many of the issues.
My church pianist records himself and others (congregation, pulpit participates, and praise Team, throughout worship service and streams it live on Facebook.
Is anything illegal about this?
There are special exceptions and additional protections for live streaming worship services since many who attend have an expectation of privacy. In addition, while the Religious Service Exemption in US copyright law outlines the permissions for churches to perform songs that are copyrighted during their religious services, it does not permit that performance to be streamed or broadcast over the Internet. There are also issues regarding projecting song lyrics, which when live streamed may exacerbate the issue.
I’m on the board of directors for a youth sports club. We would like to live stream our practice that is held in our local high school wrestling practice room to our clubs’ FB page. This is due to parents not being allowed in the practice room. The practice is private to club members only. Could we just notify parents and maybe put a sign up that says live streaming video in process?
Providing notice and obtaining permission of those involved is always beneficial. As with any venue, too, if there are copyrighted images or materials visible in the live stream it’s important to ensure there are appropriate permissions in place to display/broadcast those materials.
Great article i am very interested in n this topic. I found this paper very interesting and informational. I see that you are based out of Phoenix AZ, I resided in Tucson.
Recently i have a discussion with my supervisor about streaming.
We play an online game called Call of Duty while we play i stream my gaming sessions.
My game sessions includes a video of me playing plus the conversations we have online.
Is there any laws or regulations i should follow while streaming?
Do i need to let people interacting with me that i am streaming my game or that i am streaming live?
Online game streaming is rather common, but does come with its legal challenges. It’s one thing to stream yourself, something altogether to stream other people without their permission. There are a host of laws regarding streaming, third-party intellectual property use, privacy, and the rights of publicity/personality.
During a public meeting conducting interviews for a school administration position, that was originally streamed live, the school board is asking to have certain parts of a particular interview be edited out because of information presented could be considered as part of a data privacy issue. Can this be done?
FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. NOT OFFERED AS LEGAL ADVICE.
Hi Mike, this is an excellent question and one that is becoming more of an issue as public meetings are live streamed. Most state Open Meeting Laws (OMLs) have not been updated to address the issue of (1) pausing the live stream due to a data privacy matter and/or (2) releasing an edited recording due to data privacy matters. However, OMLs have exceptions which allow for closed meetings and those exceptions are what should be used to try and match the new “tech” situation with the intent of the law.
For example, not all meetings must be open. OMLs allow for exceptions and often provide guidance as to how such a meeting, or portion of a meeting, is to be identified as closed. With a meeting that is live streamed, it is especially important that anyone who speaks is aware that the meeting is open and being live streamed AND that if protected information is going to be disclosed it should be made known so it can be determined before the disclosure if the meeting needs to be closed for a portion and thus live streaming temporarily suspended. Unfortunately, there are times where it’s only after the fact that it’s discovered protected data was disclosed and thus the recording needs to be edited.
In an instance where the recording must be edited to protect for data privacy, the same process should be followed as with closing a portion of a meeting. Minnesota, for example, provide a clear process by setting out ‘best practices’ to provide notice. (ex: https://mn.gov/admin/data-practices/meetings/rules/closing/)
For example, Minnesota law states that a public body must do three things:
Make a statement on the record.
Give the specific statutory section that requires or permits the meeting to be closed, or identify in some way the statutory authority requiring or permitting a closed meeting.
Specifically describe what will be discussed at the closed meeting, which requires more than just identifying possible discussion issues.
Of course, whatever the organization chooses to do should be in accordance with the state laws where they are located and run past their legal counsel since they’ll be the one who has to defend the action if it’s challenged. They may have a different process for disclosure or have a different take on the law. I just use MN as an example because they’re one of the few states that provides detailed information to the public on exceptions to OMLs.
OMLs are a necessary part of the transparency, but they do allow for exceptions when protected data is part of the meeting.
Hope this information is helpful!
Great information! I belong to a private camping club. Many (but not all) wish for the monthly Board Meetings and Workshops to be live streamed to our Members Only Facebook page (vetted for members only). Those who oppose this effort are claiming Privacy issues because it’s a private club. The meetings mentioned are held in the camping park’s Adult Club House. Is it an issue to announce the livestreaming before hand, and have the livestream sent only to the members only Facebook page?
I’m late to the reply, but given that merely a few weeks after you left your comment states limited group gatherings and non-essential meeting it’s a much more timely question than you may have though.
Part of the answer will depend on what the Bylaws of your private club state with regard to how meetings are conducted. Many organizations have governing documents that were created prior to the ability to conduct virtual meetings so they are silent as to whether the organization can conduct their meetings in any other way besides ‘in person’. However, given the current state with social distancing rules and state ‘at home’ regulations it’s not possible to meet ‘in person’. So perhaps the governing documents need to be updated.
Back to the governing documents, who has the right to attend meetings? If they’re open to the general public then notice would need to be made accordingly. If they’re only open to members, or certain types of members (i.e., good standing), then notice to those members in accordance with governing documents would be necessarily.
Board meetings often are limited to only certain members (i.e., Board members) so access beyond those members would need to be limited.
As for general ‘Privacy’ matters, private clubs are not necessarily required to meet public meeting law requirements so there is a level of privacy afforded. However, the general concept of privacy may not apply because there is no privacy, generally, when a person attends a meeting live with others. Legal experts who practice in this area, of which I am not one, are often loathe to allow for recording of private club meetings for a variety of legal reasons. None of those, however, have to do with granting attendees an individual right of privacy.
You may want to discuss this with knowledgeable legal counsel and review the governing documents.
Hi Sara. Really great article. I am researching and its hard to find any extensive information anywhere. Hope you can help.
So I am going to livestream a bands live performance on youtube as a private livestream to a private audience.
The songs they will perform will be “live” and not prerecorded tracks or previously released songs – no music videos will be ever used either.
We won’t ever be replaying the stream or even saving it for archive.
Now I understand the stream will be scanned for copyright material (as youtube do this to prevent use), however if they are NEW versions of the songs and they will not be “published” exactly what “Digital Performance” license will we need?
Hard to find any info in this grey area…
At minimum, for livestreaming copyrighted musical content combined with visual content you need a synchronization license. If music lyrics are displayed during the livestream that would require a print license as well.
It’s not a grey area, as “live streaming” has been happing in the form of live broadcasts for several decades. There is no such thing as a “digital performance” license. The main license types for music content are: synchronization, mechanical, public performance, and print.
Is it okay for an entity like a museum to take photographs or videos of students on a school field trip without having to get every parent’s permission? Does the museum need to get permission from the school to take photographs or video since it’s a public place?
Photographing or taking video of people who enter your public establishment is, generally, not illegal. Potentially weird depending on the establishment type, but taking photos/videos of people while in public is, generally, not illegal. What you do with those photos may be illegal. Using a minor’s name or likeness, especially for commercial purposes, without parent/guardian authorization is likely illegal. The school may have obtained waivers within the permission slip or other school paperwork for this type of activity, but you’d need to know what parents have signed not only for this particular field trip, but also general waivers for the school.
We are a church that livestreams its services (currently we are still “livestreaming” a largely recorded service due to COVID-19 guidelines). Our question is if there are any restrictions on livestreaming a musical number posted on youtube as a part of the livestreamed service, or if we need to somehow track down the person who posted that to get permission. We are assuming that it being posted in a public manner on youtube means it is intended to be viewed, so we think we should be ok by sharing it as part of a service, but wanted to clarify what the proper course of action is.
There are a number of issues with livestreaming video/audio posted to YouTube or other similar services. The main issue being that these services likely do not grant users the rights to livestream. YouTube’s terms prohibit the distribution and broadcasting of any part of the YouTube service without written authorization from YouTube and, if required, the owner of the content. Further, in the most recent update to the Terms (10/10/2019) the following is clearly enumerated as a prohibition:
use the Service to view or listen to Content other than for personal, non-commercial use (for example, you may not publicly screen videos or stream music from the Service),
which would mean that streaming videos (with or without music) for a commercial purpose would be a violation of the Terms.
Is a church a commercial use? That is always a sticky question because there is often great leeway given to religious institutions for many purposes. However, for the purpose of copyright, as well as the Terms, live streaming content from YouTube for anything other than personal use could create liability for infringement.
Just because something is posted for public view, that alone does not grant absolute use of the work. When using a platform like YouTube, there is a license that the copyright holder grants to YouTube. And while that may be very broad, users of these platforms need to be aware of what the Terms state so they’re not violating the terms and thus violating other rights that may not have been granted.
If we include an ASL interpreter on our live stream, is there a requirement for the positioning of the ASL box?
You may want to review a resource such as the International Association of Conference Interpreters for best practices with regard to incorporating an interpreter box in a live stream.
Opps I wanted to also ask about licensing. We are aa church and livestream/capture our services. This may be a strange questions but who has the ownership rights to the IP? We have a media company that is under the local church. The media company pays for the camera men, the equipment and the streaming service. Does the speaker have the rights? The Media team? The Local Church?
Thank you so much!
Your questions are important ones to ask, but there are any variety of answers depending on what the contractual or employment relationship is between and among the parties. If the media company is owned by the church, then you’d have to see if the media company has a contractual relationship with the church which address ownership of intellectual property that media company creates. If the media company hires camera operators as freelancers, does their contract detail who owns the intellectual property they shoot? If the media company employs the camera operators as employees, then most likely the media company owns the intellectual property under employment laws but that’s not necessarily correct if the employment agreement or terms of employment say otherwise. Does the speaker have rights? Yes, the speaker owns the rights to their written speech. But the speaker does not necessarily have rights to video or photographic content simply because it is of them. The speaker has the right to control the commercialization of their likeness, which may limit what can be done with photos and videos taken of them but if the speaker has signed a speaker agreement there may be language in that contract detailing such matters.
As you can see, there is no one answer since it all depends on what the exact relationship is with respect to all the parties.
Due to all the Covid 19 stuff, the restaurant I work at is doing take out only where we have barricaded the doorways and created takeout windows. This means I, the server, am inside the restaurant but customers are outside. The other night I had a YouTube live-streamed come to the window. I requested him not to record me. According to the phone call I received from someone watching the live stream, he was recording me the entire time. Do I have a reasonable expectation of privacy in this instance? I refused to continue helping him after that phone call, and when my manager went outside to ask him to step back, he pretended he was filming something else across the street. After the fact, he called to speak to the manager to complain that his viewers were angry about how I treated him.
I rambled a bit, but my main question was whether or not I can expect a reasonable amount of privacy despite being in public. I do not want my face or voice spread over the internet without being asked first. He was live streaming as he walked up and did not ask.
There is no law against taking video in a place of business other than in places where privacy is obviously an issue (e.g. in restrooms, fitting rooms, etc). However, a business may prohibit recording while on its premises, may eject someone recording in violation of that prohibition, and if the individual remains and continues to record after being asked to leave the premises that person may be subject to arrest for criminal trespass. It is not the recording itself that is the problem but continuing to record after being told to stop that may create the criminal issue. Employees can refuse service to individual recording them if their employer allows such refusal.
Since some will record audio only, thinking they can be more slick, recording audio conversations of others may violate federal and/or state wiretapping laws if the person doing the recording does not have the necessary consent.
Hello Sara – I am an advisor for a college newspaper. We are constructing a new building on campus that will house our newsroom. The plan right now is to have multiple TV’s facing outward that would display multiple news stations via streaming service(s). Do we need special licensing to broadcast these stations on these TV’s? Any help is appreciated. Thank you!
Excellent question, Jeremy. Universities are a bit different from standard commercial businesses. Many universities already have licenses for the type of setup you mention. This would be something to check with the Provost or one of the VPs office since the university’s legal counsel may have already developed guidelines for public-facing streaming devices. The determination of whether a license would be needed, and if so does the university have the license or an exemption, will depend on a number of factors such as who has access to the building, who would generally see these televisions, what exactly the purpose is of these devices.
Again, excellent question, but because it’s an educational institution the decision tree passes through university leadership.
As plans for schools’ reopening are underway, some school districts are stating that classroom teachers with students on campus will be live streaming to virtual students (off-campus). Is this type of live streaming scenario legal in South Carolina?
This is something that school district counsel will likely have looked at and have guidelines for teachers. Streaming in the educational setting is very new, and likely covered by the various aspects of copyright law. However, there could be other concerns so directing questions to your district legal team would be best.
I want thank you, for such nice work. We really appreciate all the excellent information you had provided on this blog.
A company owns fews restaurants in Florida, and They wants livestream a 360 top view from main area of those restaurants on its Website, (no audio will be recorded)
We know the restaurants are considered public places( excepted the restrooms) and also the restaurants website promote several advertisements and special discount on the menu, like happy hour, special dishes free etc.
If there is a sign on the entrance of the restaurant warning the public there is surveillance videos and also the images can be used for promote the restaurants on its website, I believe its knowing as crowd model releases.
So my question is, are the restaurant owners doing anything illegal ? Are they violating any privacy ?
There is a difference between providing notice that the venue has surveillance video and live streaming or using video for promotional purposes. Both have privacy concerns and rights of publicity concerns. In a public location there is no expectation of privacy so having surveillance or live streaming isn’t really a privacy concern. The concern arises with what is done with that video. Crowd model release are not needed for surveillance video, merely informing patrons through publicly posted notices sufficient to provide meaningful consent prior to entry is enough. Surveillance video is used for security purposes and is not posted in a live feed nor is it used for promotional purposes without additional consent. Live stream video raises a host of other considerations. Are the restaurant owners doing anything illegal? That’s a loaded question because there is insufficient information to make even an educated guess.
I read through most of this thread and it is great! I am a high school principal and we are struggling to have performances for our music groups due to Covid-19 limitations for our spectators. It appears livestreaming a concert is not a good option based on what I have read thus far. So my question is this: Can we livestream the event to a designated area and not have it recorded? For example, have the concert in the school with zero spectators and have it live on a big screen outside the building in our parking lot. We would be live and no recording made. We have a local radio station that would broadcast on a closed station as well (you must be within X number of feet of the station’s device for your car radio to work). It would coincide with what the people in the parking lot could see on the screen. THANKS!
Ryan, digital media transmission requires a separate license from the standard performance license. For concerts, if the students are playing music in the public domain there isn’t really an issue. The challenge, though, with school performances, is that the arrangements used are almost always still copyrighted.
In addition, regardless of whether the venue has spectators or is empty the requisite licenses are required. So you’d still need a performance license – which you likely have because these have been common for schools for decades; and if you record the performance for later viewing that’s a different license, as is live streaming. The audio broadcast on the radio could require a sync license, but the station may have those rights to the specific music already.
Fair Use? In this time of COVID, many schools are simply relying on Fair Use because they’re a school and ‘educational purposes’ are covered by Fair Use. But not so fast! Broadcasting to parents and family likely doesn’t fall under ‘educational purposes’.
You present a very challenging questions, Ryan. One that will likely be resolved differently between districts and schools across the US depending on the resources and risk profiles of the school/district. Much of it could come down to what exactly you’re live streaming – is it an orchestra concert with original classical music that is in the public domain or is it a choir concert of pop music?
Great article above. Regarding live-streaming on private property, we have a business wherein personal shoppers live-stream the shopping for customers that place an order online (think instacart but with a live-stream component for local businesses). If we obtain permission from the business owners to provide this service for their customers ordering for home delivery and we don’t include other people or shoppers in the frame (only shopping cart/products) would that pose much legal risk to us or the business/store owners? Thanks for your information so far!
Daniel, this is becoming more popular. Live streaming on private property, even if the live stream is private may require consent of the property owner. Because of the commercial nature of the service, the likely need for consent could be higher. Whether there is ‘much legal risk’ is beyond the scope of website comments so you’ll need to discuss this with your legal counsel to get their opinion based on all the facts.
Hi Sara. Thanks for all of the information (in general) above. My question: I want to use game film (soccer) of 10-11 year olds for my online soccer training platform. It was filmed at an elementary school (public) by a dad of one of the players. It was shot with a drone at a height at which none of the players are identifiable whatsoever. If I get permission from the dad who has since posted the videos on YouTube to use it in my platform, commercially, am I operating within the law? Do I legally need permission from the soccer club or the parents to use it? With minors, I know it can get tricky! Thank you in advance for your time and expertise, it is very much appreciated.
Since you did not create the film you would definitely need permission from the person who created it. Elementary school are not necessarily public property but if the videographer had permission to be on the property that is not really a concern. As for model releases? A model release is required if an individual is identifiable. If logos are visible that would necessitate authorization from the owner of the brand.
I’m appreciating your blog. Thanks! I research, write and perform my own one-person dramas for churches and schools. Now that churches need to do livestreaming of their services what is the best way for me to share my dramas, but protect my material? They pay a flat fee for me to come and don’t make any money off the recording of my material. Churches have their own YouTube channels to host their livestreamed events. Is it best to permit them to offer a recorded playback limited by password protected access or playback available to whoever views their channel? Also, will YouTube flag churches if a number of them are posting a recording of the same drama? I appreciate your wisdom!
Will YouTube flag a channel that is posting the same recording? Possibly as it may trigger the ContentID system. However, if it’s a recording of what was originally a live stream it’s not as likely since a livestream saved is not the same as uploading third party content.
As for protecting your material? That’s really up to you to decide what license you want to grant. If you want to allow for recording/playback of a livestream of your performance you should agree to that in writing and determine what compensation you want and how the recording can be accessed. It’s your show, you determine the rules.
We operate two gyms (fitness centers) here in Tennessee. We are trying to get rid of cable and would rather stream fitness related YouTube channels of our members favorite people to watch and follow. Are we allowed to do this?
Streaming YouTube content for commercial use would be a violation of their Terms as the platform grants a license to view/use its content for personal, non-commercial uses only.
Is it okay to live-stream a board committee meeting in NYS without the full boards consent if the meeting is not open to the general public, but rather only to shareholders? Yet it would go out to the general public. Thanks…
This would depend on whether public meeting laws applied. If public meeting laws apply, unanimous consent of the board may not be required.
If this is a private organization, you’d need to look at the articles of incorporation, articles of organization, bylaws, and/or operating agreement to determine what, if any, restrictions there may be regarding consent for access to certain types of meetings. For example, executive or finance committee meetings may not be subject to open attendance while other committees may. NYS laws allow remote and virtual meetings as a substitute for in-person meetings (https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/BSC/708).
Many thanks for all your responses so far. This is wonderful information for newbies in IP and copyright protection! I plan on live streaming outdoor walks in my neighbourhood. Are there privacy issues filming public buildings, people, or public advertising on YT & FB?
Jake, you present several different questions.
Privacy issues of public building – inanimate objects do not have privacy rights. Some buildings and sculptures are protected by copyright so their commercial use should be cleared with legal counsel.
Privacy rights of people in public – there is no general right to privacy when a person is in public. But if you are in public and the person is in a building that you can see them through the window, that person may have a right to privacy depending on the circumstances. Though, while people may not have a right to privacy while in public, there are still ethical and moral questions that come into the conversation when filming/photographing those people. So while it may not be illegal to livestream someone in public who is in some type of distress, the court of public opinion may be a more harsh judge than any legal judge.
Incorporated copyrighted content in advertisements can change the outcome because while in one situation the use may be non-commercial incorporating that prior non-commercial use into a clearly commercial use could produce a different legal outcome.
Sarah, issue I am having currently…neighbor is live streaming a stop sign. It is in front of homes. It has 200k followers. With that being said neighbors were getting food deliveries, and people stopping to act foolish in front of stop sign. The issue is the numerous homes being in the background, the people who live there are non stop captured as they come and go. They do not support this stream (via twitch). Is there a legal recourse we can take to get this shut down? The non stop people stopping and horns blowing…this stream is 24/7 and we are genuinely concerned
Video recording laws often focus on if there is a reasonable expectation of privacy of the person/people being recorded. But with it comes to public surveillance, different states have different laws regarding surveillance. In some states, merely obtaining visual recording is not illegal so long as the camera is on your neighbor’s property. In other states, visual recording is acceptable but audio recording is not. And in other states, all forms of recording may be subject to criminal or civil penalties. Generally, publicly viewable areas are fair game – which is how companies like Google can record their Street View images across the United States. You may wish to research or speak with an attorney who can provide you information as to the laws of your state with regard to public surveillance by private citizens.
hi ,great insight!i guess my question is,well what about being able to find and watch someone say an ex?what rights does a person have in reguards to someone being able to watch you arrive at your place of employment let alone watch what time you leave or when your break is becouse the buisness right across the street has a live earth cam pointed at your place of employment what im saying is that this particular live stream camera is placed where employees come and go from work and not being used as it should be intended for which is the main street of our town also the only reason it was found out about was with malicious intent as in a coworker being watched and recorded going to and from work by ex boyfriend
There is no expectation of privacy when one is on a public street or in an openly public area. How the information is used could present problems. If the intent in placing the camera was to stalk a person you’d have to look at local laws regarding that. This situation is not a privacy concern, it is a safety concern.