What is implied consent? According to law.com:
n. consent when surrounding circumstances exist which would lead a reasonable person to believe that this consent had been given, although no direct, express or explicit words of agreement had been uttered.
What does this mean to the videojournalist? Well, if you’re doing an interview…you walk up to a subject with mike extended, ID readily available either by the mike cube or press tags or if you introduce yourself (camera rolling) and explain what you are up to…if the subject speaks and answers your questions they are giving consent – implied consent, even thought you may not have formally asked them for permission to do an interview. A reasonable person, seeing the camera and microphone, would asssume that the interchange is being recorded and would most likely be broadcast.
This comes in handly, especially when you’re in a hurry. But it only works if you are upfront with your gear and purpose. This will not work if you wear a hidden wireless and the camera is out of sight – in fact you’re setting yourself up for a lawsuit if you do not have consent for interviews. California, for instance, is a state that requires all members of a conversation to give consent before it can be recorded. Some states have a single person consent – one person can give consent. Others in the conversation may have their voices recorded without their knowledge. Know the law in your state.
I’ve shot countless interviews at accidents, MOS’s (man on the streets), whatever…just by walking up to a person and asking the question. Never had a complaint. I have been turned down (both graciously and rudely)…and always respect those who do not wish to be interviewed…well, almost always. There are those public figures who would rather avoid the media, but who’ve placed themselve in the public eye and lost their rights to privacy. But that, my friends, is another story for another day.