Live streaming may not be new, but it’s growing more accessible and attractive all the time. Thanks to platforms like Instagram and YouTube, more and more businesses are using live streams as a way to promote new products, highlight special events, or simply provide their customers with behind-the-scenes content.
If you’re looking to live stream content on behalf of your Limited Liability Company (LLC), there are a number of factors you’ll want to consider, including basic marketing and branding strategy. Don’t forget that there are legal implications to live streaming, as well. Indeed, live streaming introduces a range of legal complexities, from privacy concerns to the use of copyrighted material.
If you own an LLC, you’re no stranger to legal questions, starting with how long does LLC approval take? The legality of streaming can be especially complicated, but in this post, we’ll highlight a few of the most salient considerations.
In this Article:
🎥 Streaming from Your LLC: Core Considerations
©️ Copyrighted Content
No matter which live streaming service you use, whether Instagram or Google Hangouts, you’re going to sign terms of service promising that you won’t violate anyone else’s copyright.
What does this mean in practical terms? For one thing, if you use copyrighted music in the background of your live stream (without obtaining a proper commercial license), then you’re not only violating those terms of service, but you’re potentially breaching intellectual property laws, as well.
Music is the most obvious example of copyrighted material that may be used in a live stream, but there are plenty of other examples, as well. For example, LLC owners may not think much about copyrighted artwork or even architecture that appears in their streaming content.
Of course, if you record something in advance and stream it later, you can edit out or pixelate copyrighted content. (You may see this happen sometimes on news broadcasts or reality TV programs.) With live streaming, however, there is no such option… and inadvertently displaying any kind of copyrighted content may expose your LLC to certain legal risks.
⚖️ Commercial/Private Use
If you’re streaming something for commercial use, there are a host of legal issues that can arise. These go beyond copyright materials to include privacy laws, publicity laws, location releases, and even laws related to loitering.
Additionally, live streaming something where there are other people in the background can potentially land you in legal peril. That’s why TV shows and movies actually hire people to be “extras,” rather than just using actual passersby.
Again, it’s important to be aware that live streams offer no way to “edit” your content, which makes it important to do your due diligence and avoid streaming anything that could infringe upon another person’s rights.
🌍 Location Concerns
Irrespective of whether you’re streaming for personal reasons or for commercial use, it’s critical to ensure that you actually have permission to be at the location where you’re filming. If you’re streaming from your LLC headquarters or storefront, that makes things easy. But if you go on location elsewhere, there are some legal questions that may come up.
Even public locations can be tricky. For example, you can stream from a public street, but you are legally prohibited from obstructing traffic. Similarly, courthouses and schools are considered to be public spaces, yet there are legal limitations in place to safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of others.
For commercial use, many cities and municipalities actually require a permit before you can live stream anything. Running afoul of these permitting requirements may result in loitering or even trespassing charges, so that’s something for every live streaming LLC to be aware of.
🔏 Privacy and Right of Publicity
In legal terms, privacy refers to the right to control information about yourself, irrespective of how it’s shared. Meanwhile, the right to publicity refers to every person’s right to protect their name and likeness from being used for exploitative, commercial purposes.
These rights sometimes overlap, but sometimes one is present when the other is not. For example, say you’re a customer, dining at your favorite local ice cream shop. You don’t necessarily have privacy rights in this scenario, as you’ve chosen to come to a public location, but you do have a right to protect your face and name from being used commercially without your permission. Meanwhile, if you went to use the ice cream shop’s restroom, you would obviously have the legal expectation of privacy, even though you’re technically in a public place.
These are important distinctions for LLC owners to keep in mind as they consider the possibility of live streaming from their place of business, especially if their live stream would involve customers in any way.
🪧 How LLCs Offer Legal Protections
Any business owner can wind up streaming in a way that violates the law, often out of sheer ignorance or accident. Sometimes, this will involve people bringing lawsuits against the company, which can obviously be unwelcome.
This is an area where the LLC structure comes in handy. In fact, the LLC is one of the most popular business structures in the country, precisely because of the legal liability safeguards.
More specifically, an LLC creates a clear separation between the business and the business owner, meaning that you can keep your personal assets distinct from your business assets. The upshot is that, if somebody brings a lawsuit against your company due to a live stream (or anything else), the courts may seize some of your business assets, but they cannot seize your family car, your individual retirement account, or the home you share with your spouse.
🚀 Streaming the Legal Way
From acquiring commercial permits to understanding right to publicity laws, there are countless ways for LLCs to protect against legal conflict as they live stream. Be sure you understand the legal dimensions of live streaming, and consult with your business attorney if you have specific questions or concerns.
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