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YouTube families & filming laws


HereComesTreble
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Whilst reading the Mills family thread, I realized how rude it is that Tom live-streams his trips to Walmart with no regard for the privacy of other shoppers and employees.  The cashier may not want to be broadcasted to 70k viewers—yet Tom just films away without asking permission. Is that legal?  I thought, at least in some states, you have to get a person’s permission to film them.

That made me so mad.  Then, I got to thinking about the kids in these YouTubing families.  Aren’t there laws regulating children filming professionally?  Like, lots of laws, right?  Stuff like, limited number of hours filmed per day depending on how old they are and money earned must be saved for them until they get to a certain age?

And...they are children.  They can’t legally give consent for anything, right?  So when YouTuber parents say “we asked our kids if it’s ok to film our lives and put it on YouTube:” that’s not really consent.  They are kids.  I don’t think that works, legally (or ethically).  When they grow up, that may regret that their childhood was aired publicly.

Some of these families film nonstop and some are clearly not saving money earned for their kids.  

How does all of this fly, legally? 

Edited by HereComesTreble
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Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any laws set in place to protect children specifically filmed for content on YouTube like there are for film and TV (i.e. the Coogan Act). The closest thing YouTube has done in an effort to protect children is disable comments on or even demonitize videos where children are heavily featured in response to COPPA, but is generally viewed as being misdirected. (Like demonitizing videos featuring video games or LGBTQ-related content, while The LaBrant Fam and Ryan's Toy Review still have their comments up.)

Though it's not the wild west that it used to be, many internet platforms are still in their terrible two's as they're still adjusting their use by the general population (as opposed to just the tech-savvy) and a whole generation of young people who were raised with the internet at their fingertips. Remember, YouTube was only founded fifteen years ago, and people wouldn't begin using the platform to create a "brand" to make profit for many years later. At the time, videos with kids in them were either normal home videos or productions by the kids themselves uploaded to YouTube for fun.

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Thank you for that explanation. It sounds like this may be one of those examples of how the law doesn’t keep up with emerging technology.

The Coogan law should apply here because, in some cases, there’s hardly a difference between filming for television and filming for a YouTube series. And dang some of those families make millions of dollars off of their kids. Just because it’s YouTube, and not Nickelodeon or Disney’s Channel, there’s no oversight.

So if you see a newbie politician named Herecomestreble campaigning for expansion of the Coogan Act, it’s me!

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2 hours ago, Stormy said:

there don't seem to be any laws set in place to protect children specifically filmed for content on YouTube like there are for film and TV (i.e. the Coogan Act).

Always remembering that very few states have laws similar to California's Coogan.

6 minutes ago, HereComesTreble said:

The Coogan law should apply here because, in some cases, there’s hardly a difference between filming for television and filming for a YouTube series.

Again there are very few states where Coogan or a Coogan-like law exists.  In California it does apply to reality shows so if someone is making money from youtube, someone may try to make that case.

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30 minutes ago, Coconut Flan said:

Always remembering that very few states have laws similar to California's Coogan.

I don’t know the specifics of the Coogan Law (obviously), but I can’t imagine that child actors aren’t legally protected throughout the USA.  Otherwise, wouldn’t scammy parents of child actors just establish residence in a state where those laws wouldn’t apply (especially in regards to the financial protections of the Coogan Law)?

Edited by HereComesTreble
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35 minutes ago, HereComesTreble said:

Thank you for that explanation. It sounds like this may be one of those examples of how the law doesn’t keep up with emerging technology.

Once upon a time, drinking and driving wasn't illegal! It wasn't until motor vehicles became more accessible to the average person and the uptick in deaths linked to driving and alcohol impairment that the law had to spell it out. Note that much of this took place during the Prohibition, so it was assumed that no one was drinking alcohol anyway, but...

27 minutes ago, Coconut Flan said:

Always remembering that very few states have laws similar to California's Coogan.

I never realized Coogan was exclusive to California (I grabbed the article quickly for the link). So I suppose kids are more exploitable in other states, where there are far fewer recording studios and less oversight? I wonder how it would work for on-site filming destinations; The Walking Dead, for example, is filmed in North Carolina.

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11 minutes ago, HereComesTreble said:

I don’t know the specifics of the Coogan Law (obviously), but I can’t imagine that child actors aren’t legally protected throughout the USA.  Otherwise, wouldn’t scammy parents of child actors just establish residence in a state where those laws wouldn’t apply (especially in regards to the financial protections of the Coogan Law)?

Sadly, they aren't.  It isn't based on parental residence, but site of the filming.  California and NY where most of the filming takes place have laws.  A few other states have implemented some coverage. 

Quote

At present, Coogan Accounts (a.k.a Blocked Trust Accounts and Trust Accounts) are required by the State of California, New York, Louisiana and New Mexico.

Plus there are all the other protections such as set teacher, working hours, breaks, meal periods, etc. 

Edited by Coconut Flan
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3 minutes ago, Coconut Flan said:

Sadly, they aren't.  It isn't based on parental residence, but site of the filming.  California and NY where most of the filming takes place have laws.  A few other states have implemented some coverage. 

 

That’s nuts!  What a shame.  

Serious bummer for those YouTube kids.  They may be famous/infamous for their families’ antics on the internet and their parents may get a ton of $$$—while no one is looking out for their best interests.

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I saw an analysis once where if your channel will fall apart without the kids, then it's questionable. A lot of channels begun as just a mom's lifestyle/fashion/makeup channel that then graduated to including their children in daily vlogs, pregnancy updates, and content aimed at other children (an arguably huge demographic among YouTube viewership).

Probably what I'm most astounded by isn't the exploitation, but the naiveté of some of these parents. I'm sure there are situations where the children are adequately consulted or even compensated for their participation, but that doesn't account for breaches of privacy. I live in the same city as a certain well-known, successful YouTube family and I recognize a lot of the places they regularly frequent. They've gotten a bit tighter-lipped over the years, but all they have to do is let it slip that they're going to the mall in an Instagram story and I could probably drive on over and run into them there.

I also noticed a trend that, for some reason, a lot of these families are also the type of people to let their very small kids "free-range" and walk to school and/or friends' houses. I'll say that I think it's so important to foster kids' independence and that I WISH this was totally safe to do, but it's just not. The aforementioned YouTube family recently dealt with a scare involving "privacy" around their newly adopted newborn son, hence the increase in vigilance. There are theories that some birth mothers might be choosing to place their children with families who update regularly on YouTube because they essentially get to watch them grow up and know they're okay. I think that makes a lot of sense why someone would do that, especially for those that are very young; while I think that's innocent enough, it goes to show how easily of an avenue someone (anyone, birth family or not) has to fixate on a particular child, and that can get very dangerous.

 

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12 minutes ago, Stormy said:

Probably what I'm most astounded by isn't the exploitation, but the naiveté of some of these parents. I'm sure there are situations where the children are adequately consulted or even compensated for their participation, but that doesn't account for breaches of privacy. I live in the same city as a certain well-known, successful YouTube family and I recognize a lot of the places they regularly frequent. They've gotten a bit tighter-lipped over the years, but all they have to do is let it slip that they're going to the mall in an Instagram story and I could probably drive on over and run into them there.

I also noticed a trend that, for some reason, a lot of these families are also the type of people to let their very small kids "free-range" and walk to school and/or friends' houses. I'll say that I think it's so important to foster kids' independence and that I WISH this was totally safe to do, but it's just not. The aforementioned YouTube family recently dealt with a scare involving "privacy" around their newly adopted newborn son, hence the increase in vigilance. 

This makes my stomach ache with worry.   Some of these families post videos about their actual schedules, too.  Anyone can find out that their kid has soccer at 4 at the local field or whatever.  Uuuggghhhh.

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