Videoing in public. Can you? My experience (nasty) and the reality.

The current hoo-haa over a lady who was filmed without her knowledge for a TikTok stunt reminds me of a situation I went through in Queensland a few years back.

Well, more than a few years as I was road testing a Canon XL2 camcorder which was tape based (and just quietly was brilliant).

I decided that a local skatepark was a good place to get some footage, and so on a Saturday afternoon, set the camera up on a tripod and approached a few kids to see if they would do some skateboard tricks for me.

Minutes later, a VERY angry parent came out of the blue, and she called me every name under the sun, from pervert to paedophile and everything in between.

I remained calm, showed her my business card, to which she did a great Alan Bond / Paul Barry impersonation, and threatened to call the local gendarmes.

Discretion being the better part or valour, I retreated, but thought, “Hey, I am going to check this out and see where I stand legally”.

The local Mudgeeraba Police Station was only about 5 minutes down the road, so I dropped in and spoke to the local Sergeant.

The long and short is that it is quite legal to video anyone in a public place at any time. Issues only arise if you do something WITH the footage that is illegal or use it commercially without permission.

For example, a video I have of Peter Brock at Bathurst is fine for me to show. But to caption it with “Peter Brock is an avid reader of Australian Videocamera” is obviously not necessarily true and taking false advantage.

Likewise, if I used footage of the kids at the skatepark In Queensland, it is quite legal, but i that footage turned up later in less than salubrious circumstances, I am culpable.

I went back the next day by the way and made myself known to all and sundry. Everyone without exception was more than happy or me to get my test footage. Many even wanted copies if they could.

There is a very good article from the ABC that details more than I have here, including talking to experts in law at various unis around Australia. You can read it here.

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