Can I sell a video that has public street shots showing some car license plates?

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Can I sell a video that has public street shots showing some car license plates?

What is the risk of not blurring out every plate number? Similarly, do I need to blur faces of the people on the public streets?

Asked on March 6, 2011 under Business Law, California

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Selling videos that include public street shots may have other issues, as well. For example, while news reporters may not need to obtain permits to film (always exceptions for newsworthy items/public news), you will need to obtain permits to film from your local film bureau, especially in California. So, if you filmed something for a film which you plan to distribute, and you didn't obtain a permit to do so, if the wrong person sees it, you can be fined quite a bit. Now, as to the public street shots, your best bet is to indeed blur them out. To do otherwise could cause you to be sued (whether it will be successful or not) by people whose license plates you show or whose faces you show. Think of all the reality shows who do film on public streets but do not show those who did not sign the waiver. Talk to the licensing bureau in your county/city in California. If you are unsure, check with the one in the City of Los Angeles and you will be pointed at some pretty good resources for your review. If you are concerned about the cost of blurring, you may wish to look into low cost alternatives to pixelate the images.


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