“Borat” to test validity of signed releases

November 13, 2006

Once we get over laughing and rolling our eyes at Borat, those of us in communications are going to be wondering what happens with those lawsuits regarding signed releases. More and more of the “participants” in this film are unhappy with their participation and are seeking legal remedies. (Story from newsvine.) Two frat boys say they were juiced into signing the release in a bar and that they were told that the movie would be shown only outside the US. (I suppose it never occurred to them that saying stupid and disgusting things is just as bad outside the US as in the US).

The legal challenges will help determine the validity of signed releases. Having a passing familiarity with reality tv through my son who is engaged in this business, these releases are pretty serious documents. They have been tested and tried and tried again. But Borat’s production company seems to have pressed the limit of how these can be presented and under what circumstances. At least that is what the complainants are saying.

I’ve been saying here for some time that video is going to be an increasingly vital means of communications for companies, organizations, PR folks and the like. My PR firm, my marketing company and AudienceCentral are active users of video. And clients I am working with are very involved in developing policies for use and/or misuse of YouTube as a video distribution channel. That’s why this is going to be interesting.

Remember, if you start shooting video, you better start thinking like a production company. Get releases. Get good solid ones. And don’t do like Borat apparently did and mislead others in the intended use.

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