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Photography and Filming for Live Events.

Andy Robertson

Almost all live events have restrictions on unauthorised photography and filming of performances. Certainly, as an event organiser you will have contracts in place that specify your obligation to prevent unauthorised photography and filming but make sure you balance this with your audience engagement. 


The contract clauses to prohibit filming and photography of performances are open to interpretation and within reason an element of common sense should be applied. It is good to encourage your audience to post and share event experiences on social media platforms but this is generally for an audience of their close personal friends. On the whole this is not going to infringe on any copyright issues. 

Contracts with artists, venues, photographers and journalists can be created with specific clauses concerning ownership and copyright for a specific image or other material. The photographer usually retains the artistic rights to an image they shoot but you can include contract clauses that retain the right to approval prior to publication.

For a large music festival it would be wise for organisers to employ a professional photographer that will be contracted to them and therefore under their control. In doing this you are maintaining an element of control over the images and what can be released and where. Similarly, it might make sense to employ your own film production company too if your budget can stretch to this. Producing a high-quality film covering the festival highlights will be something you can either sell at a later date as a memento to the attending audience or in promotional activity to promote the next event. Get clear supplier contracts drawn up and get copyright approval form participating artists too.

Filming of events is one of the factors that most concerns the performance artist, bootleg performance videos are still a major concern and culprits can be prosecuted for copyright infringement. Warnings about this should form part of your terms and conditions of ticket purchase and event entry, add warning posters around the venue to remind customers too and back this up with vigilant marshalling and security checks. 

Recording and filming of live performances is potentially a large revenue earner for artists so of course they will insist on watertight contracts regarding copyright and the enforcement of this. Be prepared to negotiate with artists about any filming you may want to do and the context in which this will be done, perhaps it's for a promotional video for example. The artist may want to film and record their own performance for their own publication so work closely with their management team to provide the required production technology and security surrounding access to any resulting material.

If you use an event management software solution like FestivalPro you get great functionality built in for managing contracts relating to contracted suppliers including photographers, film production companies and journalists. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience. The easy to use FestivalPro platform features contact details and related documents including contracts and other material that form part of the event management process.  

Photo by Caleb Oquendo from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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