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  • toby wray

Video Tips For Marketeers #14 Do I Have To Consider Both Sides Of A Story?


This is aimed at anyone working for a politically active organisation but worth knowing. Even supermarkets sometimes diss the competition.



Legal and compliance

There are many rules that govern factual filmmaking in the UK. Some of the rules are matters of law such as libel; the rest are the rules drawn up by the bodies governing UK broadcasters. As the producer of a video you are responsible for knowing what the rules are, personally I apply the rules of broadcasting to my work, you can put anything you want up but it’s at your peril as the producer if you ignore potential legal consequences. This can apply even if the work is for a third party or your boss. In general the main things that you need to consider are:


Libel and brands

You cannot depict someone or a brand in a way that is derogatory or unjustifiably critical. You can feature any brand you like without permission provided that brand is shown in the way it is normally used.


The UK has very tough libel laws – be careful of any statements or allegations you or people in your film may make. If someone sues, they may sue everyone involved including the filmmakers, any interviewees plus any broadcaster who may show your film. In court the onus will be on you to prove that you are correct. It is no defence to say that the libel was made in error. Be very careful and perhaps take legal advice if you are dealing with a potentially contentious or sensitive issue. Double check facts and statements; if you cannot prove your allegations think twice about including them.


Accidental libel is a common cause of problems. You have to be very careful what you are inferring with your combination of interview, commentary and picture. A shot of a busy street with a few identifiable people walking past the camera next to a commentary line that says “two out of ten people in the UK use illegal drugs” is an accidental libel unless you can prove that those people are drug users.

If you are filming in front of a branch of a well-known hamburger chain, you do not need permission to show the chain’s trademark or logo, as it is simply a part of the street. However, if you were making a film about poison-contaminated hamburgers and you include a shot of the chain’s logo taken from the street, you may be laying yourself open to legal proceedings as your inclusion of the logo could be seen to imply that the chain’s hamburgers are poisonous. If you are filming, for example, inside a branch of a well-known hamburger chain, you must have written permission not only to use the location but also to show the chain’s trademark or logo.


Think carefully about shots lasting for a long time on screen, is there a poster with a logo on in the background? Also watch out for logos on T-shirts and caps. Short pieces with people in clothes with logos are fine – but not your presenter or key interviewees.


Fairness and the right to reply

Under UK broadcast rules you are obliged to be fair to both sides (or more) of a story. What this means in practice is offering a right to reply within the film to people who have accusations made against them.

If you film someone making an accusation about the way they were treat- ed by a corporation, a member of their own family, a politician, a neighbour etc you should contact them and ask for their side of the story. It is required for ‘fairness’ that you offer to include their reply if they wish to give one. Even if they decline you should include any other factors you are aware of, even if they weaken the central argument of your contributor.


Next week; Using other peoples material and copyright.

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