September 30, 2012 by csukach
In an age in which anyone with a mobile phone is a potential journalist and a clip or image can be posted as soon as it’s taken, what expectations does an individual have in authorizing the use of his or her quotes or image?
The answer is, “That depends.”
It depends not only on where the individual is physically when quoted or the image is taken, but also in which state in the U.S. that person resides. International privacy laws are a whole separate topic as the rules are as varied as the countries from which they come.
According to Robert Ellis Smith, exactly what’s considered private in the U.S. varies from state to state, but most agree with Ronald B. Standler that, “The right of privacy is restricted to individuals who are in a place that a person would reasonably expect to be private, (e.g. home hotel room, telephone booth).”
Regardless, U.S. Air Force public affairs officer Maj. Brooke Brander says it’s just good practice to have parties sign release forms prior to publication so both interviewer and interviewee are on the same page.
“It is both a CYA for the individual and/or organization producing the product as well as makes the interview and the use of quotes and imagery something the [interviewee] has to think about and agree to,” explains Brander.
While release forms vary, they typically include the photograph or interview subject allowing the interviewer/photographer to use quotes and images as described in the form. Parties consent by signing the form.
Brander highlights she’s had interview subjects sign release forms when working with international, national and local media so that everyone is clear and expectations are set.
“It makes all parties aware of and agree to the use of information and/or images,” says Brander.
Children are also protected under U.S. privacy laws and a parent or legal guardian should grant permission prior to using a child’s likeness or information in a publication or online.