Is it illegal to video record someone without their consent? Just about everyone is carrying around a capable video camera in the modern era. With the prevalence of smartphones, more people than ever are recording short videos of the things that they see out in public.
There are also many instances where people are being recorded without their permission. Sometimes people will record videos of others because they see something funny going on that they want to post online and other times, it might be because they’re just trying to get public video footage for some project that they’re working on.
You might be curious about whether it’s actually legal to do this or not. Is it illegal to video record someone without their permission? Things seem a little bit murky and no one wants to be on the wrong side of the law accidentally just because of shooting some video. Read on to learn more about the legality of filming others without consent.
Is It Illegal To Video Record Someone Without Their Consent?
You Can Record Video in Public Spaces
It’s perfectly legal to record video in public spaces if you want to do so. If you’re spending time at the local park or at a mall, then there is nothing wrong with taking video of the area. Basically, the law states that a person cannot expect privacy when they’re out in public. You have a right to record video while in a public space and this also includes recording audio.
This means that you can record video of other people without having to worry about getting permission so long as you’re in a public space. You can also use this to record video and audio through security cameras in your home without worrying about getting the permission of guests that you have over. Workplaces also have the right to record employees without consent for similar reasons. This situation also means that you can record video and audio of people without consent without having to worry about the legality of the situation, but there are going to be certain exceptions to consider.
It’s Different If the Individual Should Have an Expectation of Privacy
There are many situations where an individual should have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, if someone is in a changing room area in a store, then they shouldn’t have to worry about being recorded while they’re changing clothes. This also means that recording video in places such as bathrooms is going to be a bad idea. Even recording video during a private meeting at a place of business is not smart and you’re going to want to ensure that you’re recording in more public areas of the property to avoid legal issues.
Were You Asked to Stop Recording?
If you were asked to stop recording at any point, then that can change things, too. You might assume that filming at a mall is going to be fair game, but that can change if the owners of the property say that you aren’t allowed to film there. The owners of a property have the right to ban filming on the property and you need to comply with those rules or risk breaking the law. If you’ve been asked to stop recording, then you need to turn your camera off right away.
Do You Own the Property?
You also have a right to record people without their knowledge when they’re in your home or on a property that you own. It isn’t necessary to ask their permission to record video or audio while they’re on your property. The exceptions to this rule are that you cannot record video of people in bathrooms as this is seen as an invasion of privacy and is completely inappropriate. Also, you can’t film them in bedrooms where they might be sleeping while staying as your guest.
Interfering with Others Trying to Do Their Jobs
Sometimes you might want to record out in public, but your filming could get in the way of people doing their jobs. There are situations where filming won’t be allowed due to you impeding others while they’re trying to work. It’ll be necessary for you to put away the camera in these situations. Sometimes police officers might ask you to put away your camera if you’re getting in their way as well and it’s possible that continuing to record could put you in violation of the law depending on the situation.
The Legality of Recording Conversations
The legality of recording conversations is a bit different. Federal Law states that you can record audio of a conversation so long as one person in the conversation knows that they’re being recorded. This means that if you’re taking part in a conversation you’re going to be allowed to record it with no issues. However, there are differences in certain states that make it necessary to have the consent of both parties to record audio.
Twelve states made changes to state laws to protect the privacy of citizens. These states are Washington, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Maryland, Illinois, Florida, Connecticut, Nevada, and California. It’s also worth noting that recording audio of conversations that other people are having without their knowledge is not legal in many states. You’ll have to be careful if you’re trying to record audio of individuals as it’s very easy to break certain laws while doing this.
Now that you know a bit more about the legality of recording others without consent, it’s going to be easy to see that there are many grey areas here. It’s best to protect yourself and to try not to do anything that could harm others accidentally. If you often like to film public footage for film projects, then it could be best to make use of editing software. This will allow you to edit and keep the people in your videos from being recognizable and it can keep others from getting mad about showing up in videos that you post.
It’s also worth noting that you’ll need to check state laws before using any video or audio that you have obtained in a court of law. Depending on how you procured the video or audio, it may not be usable. The legal laws of consent differ by which state you’re in and it’s best to be sure of the legality of using it in court before deciding to rely on it.