Monday, April 20, 2015

Journalism professor offers tips for recording and selling news stories from a cell phone

Now that many Americans own cell phones equipped with video cameras, private citizens who happen to be in the right place at the right time are shooting more news stories. But how should the video be shot, what should be done with it afterwards and what rights does the owner of the video have? These are all questions tackled by Richard Labunski, a professor in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky in a column for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Richard Labunski
"Get an 'establishing' or wide shot first that shows the entire scene," Labunski writes. "Unless something is happening quickly, do not begin with a tight shot of people or the event. Get at least a 10-second shot from enough distance to show all the key elements. . . Protect yourself. Try not to let those involved know you are recording them. If someone committing a crime sees you doing so, you could be in danger. Also, police have confiscated cameras and arrested those shooting video even when the person was on public property and out of the way. And don't ever go onto private property."

When it comes to the financial value of the video, copyright the work and don't post it online, where anyone can download it and where many social media sites can claim ownership of anything on their sites, Labunski writes. "If you record a crime being committed, share it with law enforcement. But if a news organization wants your video, negotiate and be willing to walk away if the deal is bad."

"If a news outlet is willing to purchase a license for the video, it will want access right away," Labunski writes. "If you don't have time to consult a lawyer, make sure the agreement has an ending date and states that no one else can use the video without your permission. Request in the license agreement that the copyright symbol and your name be included on the screen. This is not required by copyright law, but it improves your chances of showing willful infringement if someone else uses the video." (Read more)

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