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Why Do They Blur Faces on TV? To Avoid Lawsuits Like This One

September 20, 2011
Colson Hicks Eidson

Diners at a Chicago hot dog restaurant are upset but not about their food. The Travel Channel allegedly filmed them inside Wiener’s Circle restaurant without their permission, and now the Travel Channel is facing a class action lawsuit with potential damages over $1 billion dollars.

According to a report at hollywoodreporter.com, the Travel Channel filmed a segment of its Extreme Fast Food show but failed to obtain the plaintiffs’ consent to broadcast their likenesses. The plaintiffs allege a violation of the Illinois Right of Publicity Act. According to the complaint, the plaintiffs want actual damages or $1,000 per violation.

If you are wondering how the claim can add up to $1 billion dollars, it is because Extreme Fast Food aired about 20 times in millions of households. The reason why you usually see peoples’ faces blurred out in public on television is so networks avoid lawsuits like this one. Normally, a producer or director will have consent forms on hand for people to sign waiving their right to sue if their image appears on television.

A little advanced planning by the network or blurring in post-production may have avoided this lawsuit. In addition to suing the network, the class action suit also names Sharp Entertainment as a defendant.

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