Why would Victoria Police arrest a teenager who's shared
film of a friend? The latest stage in the
St Kilda nude photos story raises the question of how much
– and what – we can record of our life and the
people in it.
Generally, if you're in public, you can film what you like,
ignoring for the moment any local council restrictions and some of
the lesser known parts of the Copyright Act concerning pictures of
artworks and buildings. Once you move indoors, it gets more
The first place to start is Victoria's Surveillance Devices
Act 1999. There are similar (but not identical) laws around the
Basically, in Victoria,
you can't film someone engaged in a private activity
without his/her consent if you're not also engaged in the
even if you made the film with that person's consent, you
can't communicate or publish it to anyone else without his or
If you do, you could be liable in Victoria to a fine of up to
$28, 668 and up to two years in prison. The Surveillance Devices
Act also specifically restricts the type of surveillance that an
employer can install.
There are however some exceptions.
Most of them relate to law enforcement, but Victoria does also
allow communication or publication if it's "no more than
is reasonably necessary" in the public interest; or for the
protection of the lawful interests of the person making it.
The $64,000 question is "what's a private
The Victorian Act defines private activity as "an activity
carried on in circumstances that may reasonably be taken to
indicate that the parties to it desire it to be observed only by
themselves." The fact that the subject consented to the making
of the video (if that is the case) does not mean it is not a
private activity; on the other hand, the mere fact that the subject
was in a state of some undress does not mean that it was a private
activity either. If the case proceeds we may get some answers to
So the basic message in the meantime is: be careful with that
As a licensor or a licensee, here are some tips you should consider when negotiating your next licence agreement.
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