Vlogging in public places can be tricky.
Whether it’s a park, a store, or just the street, sometimes you’ll be asked to stop filming. Even if you weren’t causing any trouble and you weren’t doing anything wrong. It just happens.
But… why? Is it illegal to vlog in public?
Well, that is what we’re going to talk about in this article.
Table of Contents
- Can You Vlog in Public Legally?
- And What About Privacy?
- Popular Places: Are You Allowed to Vlog in These?
Can You Vlog in Public Legally?
Vlogging is still a “new” practice in the eyes of the law. There are no specific rules about vlogging (or at least not at the moment I’m writing these lines), but we could treat it the same way we treat street photography and video.
That said, in most countries around the world you can record videos in public places with no risk of getting in trouble.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in the United States, you can make videos about anything that is in plain view, including federal buildings, transportation facilities, and even police officers.
If you want to know more about what you can and can’t record in public in the US, take a look at this article.
However, some places require permission from the local government. Especially if you’re going to be using a tripod and obstructing the public road, like in Spain, for example.
If you’re unsure about the rules in your country, you should take a quick look at the law to avoid any issues. But, generally speaking, as long as you don’t disturb other people and don’t violate their privacy, there’s nothing wrong with vlogging in public.
Nevertheless, in a private building, like a restaurant or a store, the owner is the only one that can set the rules for recording video inside.
Therefore, if you want to vlog in a store or a supermarket, you should always ask for permission first. But we will talk more about this later!
And What About Privacy?
When you vlog in public you need to be extra careful about the things you’re recording.
There are certain places and/or situations in which is not right to have a camera on because people have an expectation of privacy, even if they’re in a public place.
For example, it’s obvious that people need privacy in a public restroom or changing room, or if they are having a conversation you’re not a part of.
Besides that, if you want to record someone as the main subject of a video, or if you want them to talk in front of the camera, you need their consent first.
Be honest about what you’re doing and make sure people are okay with appearing in your video because once it goes online, you can’t fully control what happens after that.
Pro tip: if you want to keep things extra safe with all the people you show in your videos, especially if you make interviews or pranks, have them sign a release form. You can find many templates online. If not, you can also record them saying that they agree to appear in your video that will be published on the internet. And that’s it!
Additionally, if you’re recording some footage in a park and someone asks you to stop recording them because they don’t feel comfortable, listen to them and point the camera somewhere else. It’s a matter of respect for other people and their right to control their image.
Now, we already know that vlogging in public isn’t illegal (in most situations), but sometimes it will depend on the specific place you are or the people involved in every case.
So, if you’re curious about where you can and can’t vlog freely, here is a quick list of common public places:
Popular Places: Are You Allowed to Vlog in These?
Can you vlog in stores?
I know stores are public places open to everyone, but, as we previously mentioned, they are private buildings, so each one will have its own rules.
Some places require permission from the store while others are more open. That is why you should always ask for authorization before turning the camera on.
If you make things right from the beginning you won’t be kicked out unexpectedly. Oh, and also you won’t lose your time.
So, please, follow the rules and avoid awkward moments with store employees! After all, talking to a camera in public is already awkward enough, right?
Can you vlog at Target?
On the corporate website of Target, you can find a section about FAQs related to media. They explain that if you want to record footage you have to contact your nearest store and ask for permission first.
However, it’s not clear if that applies to everyone or just for the media and relatively large productions.
Small vloggers are on a slightly more muddy territory, because maybe you’ve seen YouTubers vlogging in Target with no problem at all, but you’ve also seen others that were kicked out for doing the same.
This can be because the company changed the rules as a consequence of previous issues with vloggers or internet trends, and now they’re banning video recording to protect their customers.
Or maybe it varies from store to store. I don’t know.
Whatever the case may be, the best thing you can do is to ask for a green light before recording. Ask any employee and they will tell you what to do.
Remember that no matter how big and “public” a store is, it’s still a private company.
Can you vlog at Walmart?
Just like Target, Walmart is a private company, so they can set all the policies they want.
On their corporate website, they do explicitly say that filming inside one of their stores without authorization is prohibited.
Can you vlog at school?
School is another muddy territory for vloggers. Especially because here you’re dealing with minors.
Chances are that vlogging inside schools is not allowed, but that will depend on each case.
In many schools, they don’t even tolerate the use of mobile devices because they are distracting and detrimental to the learning process in a classroom.
So, with that premise, vlogging without permission will surely get you in trouble.
Before doing anything, you should check with your teacher and classmates if you can record video inside the classroom or in the hallways.
But, honestly, it’s always better to avoid it. This way you keep the school (and yourself) out of problems with parents, teachers, and other members of the school community.
Can you vlog in Disney?
I think we can all agree that it is impossible to be surrounded by amazing attractions and your favorite Disney characters without wanting to record all of that.
Many vloggers want to make videos about their vacations at Disney, and if you’re one of them, here are some things you should know:
- You can vlog at Disney as long as it’s for personal use. If you want to shoot some videos for commercial purposes, you’ll need to ask for permission.
- There is some video equipment that is NOT allowed at Disney: selfie sticks, hand-held extension poles for cameras or mobile devices, drones, and folding tripods/monopods that cannot fit inside a standard backpack.
- Professional photographers and videographers with professional video equipment must request authorization for recording inside the Disneyland Resort.
Can you vlog at an airport?
Short answer: yes.
Airports are public places and, as long as you don’t disturb anyone, you’re free to record everything you want that is in full view of everybody.
Just remember you’re not supposed to film situations in which people are expecting privacy or feel uncomfortable.
And, of course, keep an eye on the airport rules. Some areas may not allow video recording, but that will depend on each case.
However, if you’re planning to vlog inside an airplane, you’ll have to check the airline rules to make sure you’re not doing anything wrong.
If you want to know a little more about what you can and can’t record in airports, The Points Guy has an interesting article about that.
Can you vlog in a casino?
Every casino has its own rules. Some may have more restrictions than others, so you’ll have to ask first.
Nevertheless, as a general rule, avoid recording videos inside a casino, especially if you show other people.
Some places may allow filming some areas, but that will always vary. What is prohibited everywhere is recording table games and close-ups of people without their consent.
Can you vlog in the military?
At least in the U.S., you can be in the military and use social media (which includes vlogging as well) as long as you don’t reveal your location or any other information that could violate operational security.
So, yes, you can vlog in the military but you have to be really careful with the things you share and the people you record.
Of course, the military has its own rules about social media use and privacy, so you have to be very well informed before filming anything.
What about driving and vlogging?
This is a delicate issue and, because of that, we’ve dedicated an entire post to this. You can read everything about safe driving and vlogging there.