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Recording and Consent

January 24th, 2013
recording, publicy

I was recently at an event which was mostly recreational singing. The organizers announced that no one was to be recorded (audio, video, photos) without their consent. The organizers emphasized that consent to be recorded was distinct from consent for that recording to be shared.

What people do by default generally has much less explicit requesting and often doesn't have any notification. People take pictures and videos at parties and dances and put them online freely. If you don't like being recorded you can try to opt out by telling people when you see them recording, but this doesn't work very well. Would trying to move our culture to a system of explicit permission be better?

In principle the idea that you need people's permission to make a recording of them or to share it with others appeals to me. If there were a completely frictionless way of verifying consent, why wouldn't you use it? It's not like you're trying to take pictures of people who would rather not be recorded. In the current world, however, there's a lot of friction. Taking a picture or video at a contra dance, for example, would require checking with so many people that it wouldn't be practical. And checking with them all again before you sent the picture to a friend or put it on facebook or a webpage would be even less workable.

Is it important enough that no one be recorded without their consent that the hassle of checking is worth it? What about the recordings that it turns out everyone would have liked but no one makes because he asking is impractical or too much work?

(I'm not so interested in the legal component. Pretty much whatever we decide we want to happen socially we can make fit within the law.)

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