Are you Allowed to Vlog in Stores

Vlogging is very popular nowadays, especially in countries like India it is still in its nascent stage. Just in the past 1 year in India, I have noticed so many new vlog channels, it is overwhelming.

I have also seen vlogs beings filmed in stores and even I had vlogged a few times in stores in the past. At that time I was not aware of Vlogging legal Issues and never thought it might even be considered illegal.

Are you allowed to vlog in stores? You can vlog in stores if you have prior permission. You cannot vlog in any store which has notices placed against filming in the store. You cannot vlog in toilets, the changing area or the storerooms, you can be sued and jailed.

Merchandise, signage fixtures require a licence to produce and display, hence you would require a licence to show in your video.

Vlogging rules change from state to state and from country to country. The rules also change based on your purpose for vlogging ( personal or commercial).

Why Can’t you Record in Stores?

There are many reasons why you cannot record in stores. Keep in mind that the store owners main aim is keeping their customers happy and generating sales.

Someone vlogging in their store can cause disruption, there might be security concerns, damage to property, spying by competitors.

Here are some reasons why you might not be allowed to film in stores such as Walmart, Gucci, Shopping Malls. Usually, shops find it easier to say a blanket “NO” to filming in stores, as it can cause a lot of issues and can affect sales, customer service as well poses a threat.

Why you cannot film in Stores and Malls

  • Some people like to film action scenes with prop guns, fake blood. This is disturbing and inconvenient to customers
  • People love filming stunts
  • Stores do not like their display ideas, price tags, security details filmed
  • Some behaviour can cause people getting hurt which can be a major liability and can result in litigations
  • Staff is trained for non-shopping behaviour, to be able to spot shoplifters. Filming and having a crew, equipment around can cause diversions. Even if it is a vlogger vlogging with her phone, it can disrupt their work.
  • Loss prevention – There have been cases of shoplifting. Usually, people take videos and pictures of stuff they want and then send in homeless addicts to steal it in exchange for cash or drugs
  • Security Compromised – On the pretext of innocent vlogs, there have been instances where people have filmed security cameras, motion detectors, cameras. This compromises the safety of customers and is very dangerous.
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Why cant you record in Piercing or Tattoo Shops

  • They don’t want to be sued if they made mistakes
  • They are afraid it gets posted on the internet and someone diys at home
  • The patient might not focus (and be present) and follow instructions, which can result in pain or delay.
  • Not everyone likes to be filmed
  • Some shops allow but make you sign an agreement all footage is the property of the shop
  • Shop Owners feel they cannot control how you represent them
  • You might be spying on them for their competitors

Do you need permission to Vlog in stores?

Yes you need permission to vlog in a store. Yet this is actually a tricky question and is a grey area in the law. I have to first put out a disclaimer, I am not a legal person. I have done my research you do yours.

This is what I found from my research.

You can vlog in public stores. What this means is that if you are in a tourist spot and this hotel is a tourist shop ( a public place), then you are allowed to film.

If a retail store is open to the public you can film videos. If the store has notices mentioning you cannot film then you CANNOT. You can get into a lot of trouble.

In any case it is better you obtain permission from the store manager.

On the flipside, just because it is a public shop, you cannot assume you are allowed to film. Afterall it is a private property ( owned by someone). You need permission.

Personal versus Commercial Use

If you are taking the vlog for personal use then people might be okay with it. If you are going to upload the video online and use it for commercial purposes, you need permission.

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Sometimes you can be sued for copyright infringement for filming the premises, people and staff of a shop.

Videos of public gardens, heritage places, celebrities cannot be uploaded and sold on online video and image sharing platforms. You can sell videos of celebrities to media though.

What you cannot film in Stores?

Be very careful what you film in a store even after obtaining permission. Do not film the security cameras, their monitoring devices, their product displays.

Do not film other customers, pranks on customers etc. Do not film anything which the shop staff say NO to.

Do not film in changing rooms or in the toilets. Do not film people without their consent.

How to Obtain permission to Film in Stores

Ask and you might be surprised by how accommodating and generous some people might be. Be very honest and transparent about the purpose of the video.

You can also create an Information Sheet or Proposal and keep it handy. This is a proposal stating why you want to film.

  • A brief synopsis of your film, what is about and for what purpose and for how long you would require the premises.
  • Description of your situation, describe the scene.
  • A brief list of what you need. Sometimes you might pay for a staff member to be available who can assist you. Some shop owners might be open to you filming on their premises after hours. Having their staff on hand would help you switch on and off lights, air conditioning. They can help you close off the shop properly so that nothing is out of place or can cause loss to the shop owner. If you need electricity, this goes in here.
  • Your contact information, and your team contact information.
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IF you using any of their resources such as electricity, staff members, you will have to reimburse the expense.

Having such documentation makes you look legit. Remember to be polite, don’t sound desperate, neither do we want to come across as arrogant.

Having no expectations from the shop owner will instil confidence in you. Be courteous even if they say no. Just scout around for another place. Usually, big corporations have a lot of approvals needed. They also have policies in place which do not allow filming in the store.

Having said, asking permission can actually get you approval ( we never know).

It is easier to get approval from mom and pop shops or from franchises. In a franchise, the manager reports to the owner of that shop directly, and you might get a quicker response.

Most shop owners do not want their customers shopping experience affected. They are open to filming after hours or an off day ( such as a weekend).

How to Find Shops to Film In

So how does one find shops to film in? Here are some ways to do that.

  • Ask a friend who works in a shop if he can put in a word with management
  • Visit shops in your neighborhood and ask for permission
  • Is you are a member of a club ( filming or videography), they usually have a list of locations they can suggest. They also provide badges and documentation which might mention you are novice videographer. This usually helps in getting approvals faster.