Can You Film Someone Without Their Permission in California_

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Can You Film Someone Without Their Permission in California?

As a filmmaker, you might be wondering what the local regulations are for various cities and states in which you intend to film. With permits, and rules, varying so much from state to state. It’s very important that you carefully examine the laws. And speak with an attorney about your intent to film in each state prior to actually embarking on your journey. Like any other state, California has many requirements for filmmakers to follow. As well as rules that protect individuals in the state from being filmed without their consent. So while you might be wondering, “Can you film someone without their permission in California”? The answer isn’t as cut and dry as you might think.


California Filming in Public

Say you’re filming in a public place, and there is no logical right to privacy. Then you’re probably safe to film the people in that public place without seeking permission from each and every one of them.

However, there are instances in most cities of California in which filming for commercial purposes in public will require a permit.

This is why it’s important to consult with a local attorney. Or to consult with the local film commission prior to engaging in any filmmaking activity in the state.

Two Party Law in California

California, like many other states, has what is called a two-party law. Basically this law states that to record both video and audio of someone, both parties must consent to the recording.

Therefore, if you intend to capture audio from a conversation someone is having. Even in a public place! It is advisable that you consult with them in advance to explicitly seek permission to record their video and audio.

So as not to break any two party recording laws that are already set forth in the state to protect individuals from being recorded in public.

Generally, in public, you can record video of two people interacting as long as:

  • You do not capture audio of the conversation taking place.
  • You cannot define the subject of the conversation by the video.
  • The people are talking in a public place.

California Filming on Private Property

Rules for filming on private property are much different in California and actually depend on the decisions of the property owner.

Generally speaking, if you’re filming on private property, you must seek permission to film from the property owner. The property owner may also require that you seek permission from anyone that is on their property if you intend to film them.

This is because people that are on private property have what is called a right to privacy. And they expect that right to be recognized. 


Keep in mind that you may not trespass on property in order to film. And, therefore, if you’re wondering, “Can you film someone without their permission in California” if they’re on private property? The answer is, NO.

Filming on private property will require permission from the property owner, so you must not be trespassing on the property, and you will also be required to get a signed release from anyone you film on the property.

Hidden video recording in private places, or recording without consent, is unlawful in California!

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