Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I had the opportunity the other night to cover for another attorney in a presentation at the Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) regarding copyright law, release forms, and fair use in video production. I typically enjoy these programs, as I always learn new things based on the questions I receive. As I experienced when I conducted a similar presentation last year to a national association of public media, the questions were well thought-out and addressed the many of central legal issues that new comers and old hands alike run into when creating video productions. Unfortunately, many of the questions necessitated the maddeningly frustrating answer of "it depends." This a problem that aggravates many clients, because obviously if they are paying for your expertise, they expect concrete, text book response. Unfortunately, to fully resolve most people’s questions related to fair use and privacy rights requires a fuzzy answer, as various criteria must be weighed against one another and more than likely the answer is unclear absent taking the most conservative of courses. While the fuzzy answers may frustrate, they often provide a “teaching moment” for the client which can be used in the future to avoid problems. This type of educating of clients is important and clients looking to hire attorneys should look for this when working with their attorneys, so that the next time the issue comes up, they can sharpen the boundaries around some of these fuzzy legal issues.