Clackamas, OR asked in Entertainment / Sports and Civil Rights for Oregon

Q: I am a member of a band that plays music for family dances and retirement centers. I also maintain the Facebook page

and website for this band. We have videos on these sites of our events. I'm particularly concerned with the retirement centers as those performances might be considered a more private event. Do I need written permission to post the videos? Could someone sue me for having a video out there? The videos show a resident clapping or dancing to the music - nothing compromising. thanks.

1 Lawyer Answer
Jim Boness
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  • Entertainment & Sports Law Lawyer
  • Portland, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: Your question asked if someone 'could' sue you for the described action. Unfortunately, yes, someone could and might. Could they win? That is a different story. This questions deals with the right to privacy in Oregon. (Oregon really does not have a right to publicity unless you have a valuable identity in most cases). The right to privacy is not absolute. There is a balance with the First Amendment Freedom of Speech. Newsworthy events are not protected by privacy unless they are disseminated with actual malice.

In order minimize the risk that you get sued, or minimize the chance of losing if you get sued. It would be advisable to let the home/venue know beforehand of your intentions and get permission before you record the performance for use on social media. If permission is granted, announcing your recording intentions to the audience (or having a sign) before the show began might be another step in reducing your chance of being successfully sued. It might also be a good idea (if practical) to have the people attending the event sign a consent or publicity release form, if needed.

It boils down to this: is there an expectation of privacy? In public places, usually not. One can even waive their right to privacy when they are in a private business that is open to the public. It all comes down to, did the person who was videotaped have an expectation of privacy in the setting they were in. That is a factual question in every instance. (Was the recoding done in a common room or was it in a more private room, etc.) As you pointed out, retirement centers might be a tricky situation because they have elements of both. However, by taking precautionary steps, using common sense and being open and respectful about your intentions may go a long way in reducing your potential liability. Best of luck!

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