Dear LH, I’ve recently taken up commuting to work on my bicycle and shooting video of each day’s journey. If I was post these videos online, what privacy laws might I be breaking? Do I need to blur number plates, people’s faces and so on? Thanks, Curious Cycler
I should — and will — preface this by pointing out that I’m not a lawyer and this shouldn’t be taken as strict legal advice.
But having got that out of the way, at a broad level there is no specific right to privacy in public places in Australia, so you should, broadly speaking be safe.
Google as an example blurs faces and details largely because this is data that it more or less inadvertently collects while it is doing other tasks relating to Street View.
Google it doesn’t have any interest in using that data in provision of its search and advertising activities. What it does have is some public nervousness about surveillance to worry about. As such, it’s a PR nightmare with no upside for such a large company, so while it doesn’t appear that Google has to blur faces, it’s a good PR move for them to do so.
That doesn’t mean you’re automatically free and clear, though, depending on what you plan to do with that footage and what you cycle past on a daily ride.
This Arts Law page raises a few decent scenarios relating to public performances where copyright might be held in a performance or artwork you cycle past; that could be an issue, although you’d probably have to slow down considerably for your footage to capture a significant enough part of such a work to make it infringing.
Equally, there’s the possibility that your handlebars could turn towards private property or into buildings, where you cross the line from public to private spaces. If it’s not clear from your video that this is so, you could be inadvertently infringing privacy, at least in theory.
Still, in the main if you’re out and about cycling with your camera, your footage should be free from any privacy concerns, just as they are for any photographer or videographer.
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