Recently there have been several landmark instances of viral videos gone bad. One in particular, in which a texting woman accidentally falls into a very large water fountain, may actually become a landmark legal case. The case in point illustrates a somewhat gray area of the Internet, how the First Amendment affects our ability to upload and share live streaming videos.
Today, anyone with a cell phone can create a video of just about anything, from woman falling into a fountain to a car crashing into a building. They can then easily upload the video to a popular social media site and press send. Good videos are almost instantaneously famous. Often, viral videos will receive millions of viewers or ‘hits’ within just a few hours. This causes a problem when the subject of said the video had no interest in their image being made public, let alone go viral.
Those who utilize live streaming videos must walk a careful line between art and the legal rights of their subjects. While the First Amendment protects our ability to speak freely, to express ourselves and to utilize the press in the manner in which we see fit, it is also important to recognize that our laws also protect people from slanderous material, pornographic images and other less than desirable posts.
It is because of this somewhat gray legal area that anyone utilizing streaming video as a part of their web site a blog should tread carefully. It is always best to utilize caution, to request permission to post another person’s image and to carefully follow decency standards on the Internet