Scary Movie 2–Preventing Unauthorized Filming and Use of Your Live Concert

This is the follow-up to Scary Movie: The Live Music Video Turned Horror Show, posted earlier on this site.

First of all, be aware that some venues prohibit recording without their express permission, and will post a notice to that effect on the premises. (In such case, even you might need permission from them to have a videographer capture your performance on your behalf.) They may even require it be stated on your tickets or any printed concert program.

On occasions where you also don’t want people filming, such a venue policy serves your interests as well. Nevertheless, some people might simply disregard the warning notice and record you regardless. Thus, a venue-imposed prohibition isn’t sufficient protection in and of itself. You should reinforce the venue’s policy by making it clear to those in attendance that you also want them to abide by the house rules. This serves the dual purpose of laying the blame for the no-filming policy at the feet of the venue operator, which should help to placate fans who might otherwise have been pissed off at you for not being allowed to video you, and gives you additional legal ammunition should you later feel compelled to take legal action against someone who you found out did it anyway.

Reinforce the venue’s policy by mentioning it on stage prior to your opening song (this can be one of the duties of the emcee, if there is one) and again at some point during your show for the benefit of late-comers. Ditto, in situations where the venue operator has no prohibition on filming but you do.

If you do have any kind of policy on others recording at your gigs, certainly do your best to inform everyone who comes by mentioning it onstage, but also consider placing the info on the website(s) where you are promoting the event, as well as somewhere on the tickets. For tickets purchased online, you could also include it within a terms of sale agreement. Consider posting a sign at the entrance and on your merch table as well.

If your policy is absolutely no filming, your notice needn’t be more than a few words. If you are OK with people videoing, let them know but also outline the conditions under which you grant that permission. This will strike a balance between allowing them to capture your performance and protecting your interests regarding what they may do with those recordings afterwards. Some who do choose to video might even be OK signing a waiver at the gig limiting their usage rights. Your merch table would be a good place for that.

The more informed people are of your policy on recording, the less likely they will be to violate it; the more proof you have that you made a reasonable effort to dispense that information to those in attendance, the better protected you will be under the law.

While it is important to inform and be clear with whatever message you have for those who would possibly record at your event, it is equally important to present your position in a way that doesn’t risk alienating your fans. Some may take it for granted that they have a right to video you and post the thing on the Web by virtue of their just having shown up to support your act. Others may not even intend to record anything but be taken aback by the tone of your message.

Obviously, you’re not in this business to create enemies, so be diplomatic in the way you present the information. Reinforcing how important they and their support are to you will also go a long way towards helping get them onside. At the same time, be prepared for any possible negative comment about the policy by having a reasonable-sounding, non-inflammatory response at the ready, just in case a disgruntled individual does confront you on it at the gig or later takes to social media.

One more thing: If you are having your performance filmed, make sure you’ve read the fine print in any contract you have with the concert promoter or venue operator. They may want not only a piece of your other merchandise sales at the gig, but also a share of any proceeds you get from the video–perhaps even things like YouTube ad revenue and future use in any commercial. If that should be the case, it’s fair to limit such share strictly to purchases by fans who order and pay for it at the show, whether via their smartphone or at the merch table.

As a final note, general principals and precautions to do with ownership and control of sound recordings apply equally to live music videos. Keeping this in mind while you pursue your career will very possibly save you some serious headaches down the road.

This entry was posted in Live Music and Performance, Recording. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Comment [Email me if it fails to appear within 3 days]

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


1 + = nine

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>