Wedding Videos and Copyright in the Digital Age

How do you protect yourself from misuse of your wedding video? It’s easier than you think.

This headline from the Daily Mail unfortunately is a sign of the times.

If you haven’t already heard, there’s an article going around right now about a couple who is suing their videographer after an embarrassing video from their wedding went viral. A bride is rightfully upset that a portion of her wedding video depicting her inebriated husband received over two million views without her knowledge or permission. As a wedding videographer myself, there are several unique things about this story that I feel obligated to respond to.

Issue #1 –The videographer shared a clip of their wedding without telling the couple.

This is never ok. Period. End of story.

Every video that Unified Cinematic shares online is immediately shared with our couples, and we will remove any video that they dislike or find embarrassing. (For the record, this has never happened.)

Issue #2 – The couple hired a non-local videography company who subcontracted the filming to another person.

There are a few things about this situation that don’t apply in most cases. Firstly, the company that the couple hired, George Street Photo, is a discount videography service that does not employ any actual videographers. Rather, they contract with local videographers at a reduced rate to shoot footage that is then sent to a parent company and edited by another person. Secondly, the wedding video was not edited by someone who attended the wedding and the footage changed hands several times before it found its way back to the couple. It was during this process that someone uploaded the embarrassing clip without their knowledge.

Contrast this experience to what you get when you hire a local videographer. At Unified Cinematic, we are fully invested in making sure that you are completely satisfied with our work. Our work is our advertising. We gain nothing by making you look bad or embarrassing you. That’s why we, as stated above, would never share an embarrassing clip (unless you asked us to!) because it reflects badly on us as well as you. Ninety-nine percent of the time, your video footage is only seen and edited by the person who filmed your wedding and never changes hands during post-production.

We want your wedding video to be the best we’ve ever filmed, and we want to be able to share that with our clients so they know how good we can be. The benefit to working with a videographer you’ve met and trust is that you don’t need to fear that your video could be used to hurt or embarrass you.

Issue #3 – Some articles are erroneously recommending that couples request full copyright ownership of their video material to avoid this problem.

Requesting full copyright ownership is expensive and akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It will solve the problem, but it’s unnecessary if your videographer is someone who wants to earn your trust (and stay in business!).

So why do videographers and photographers retain copyright? Well, a huge part of our business is the ability to use our past work to meet future clients. That means being able to show people our work in order to attract new business, and it’s true of just about any creative field. From a legal standpoint, the person who produces a creative work is the owner of that work – photographers, florists, cake makers, and videographers alike.

Take a look at the examples we have online. That’s a pretty good indicator of the quality and concern we have for the things we choose to share and promote. However, in order for you to find us online and decide that you like our work, you have to view those examples. We’re always improving and therefore always making new work available. Specific usage as outlined in our contract prevents us from sharing something personally damaging. We never use last names in our videos or other personally identifying information, and we only tag you on social media if you want us to. A full transfer of copyright, as the news stories suggest, will always carry a much steeper price given that the videographer is signing away full commercial ownership rights to you. If everyone requested this, we’d be out of business because we’d have no work to show.

Ultimately, our business is built on trust and collaboration with our client. We are there to help you create and share a meaningful story and can only do this if we work together. We gain nothing by sharing inappropriate content and it’s something you should never, ever be worried about when you work with Unified Cinematic.

This article originally appeared on our wedding videography blog at

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