Caution Partygoers: You Could Be Checking Your Privacy At The Door

"By entering the premises, you hereby grant a license and permission to DNA Lounge…to utilize your appearance, image, voice and likeness, in perpetuity, throughout the world in any and all matter and form." So reads a sign outside of the DNA Lounge, a San Francisco nightclub, thus entitling the club to use video, audio and photographic footage of any and all of its patrons in any way, shape or form.

“By entering the premises, you hereby grant a license and permission to DNA Lounge…to utilize your appearance, image, voice and likeness, in perpetuity, throughout the world in any and all matter and form.” So reads a sign outside of the DNA Lounge, a San Francisco nightclub, thus entitling the club’s staff, agents and licensees to use video, audio and photographic footage of any and all of its patrons in any way, shape or form—even to put it on public display for all to see on YouTube, Facebook and beyond.

Jamie Zawinski, the owner of DNA Lounge, brought this privacy notice to light in a blog post following a YouTube takedown of one of his videos, in response to a privacy complaint of one of the people shown in the video.  Zawinski writes about the situation in a blog post aptly titled ‘YouTube’s “privacy violation” policy is a steaming pile of horse-sh**.’  In the post, Zawinski has copy-pasted a string of emails between himself and YouTube, the first of which was sent from YouTube to inform him of the privacy complaint:

Dear DNALounge,

This is to notify you that we have received a privacy complaint from an individual regarding your content:

Video URLs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHBkGwOBCaY

The information reported as violating privacy is at 1:40-1:41

We would like to give you an opportunity to review the content n question and remove any personal information that may be used to uniquely identify or contact the complainant.  You have 48 hours to take action on the complaint.

Zawinski replied to the email from YouTube Support, telling them, “There is no privacy violation in this video.  This was filmed at a nightclub, open to the public, with no expectation of privacy.”  He also provided the privacy notice, which the club presents at the front door, in full:

“By entering the premises, you hereby grant a license and permission to DNA Lounge of its designees, and its employees, successors, assignees, licensees and agents, to utilize your appearance, image, voice and likeness, in perpetuity, throughout the world in any and all manner and form and format of media, now known or hereafter devised, including but not limited to recordings, broadcasts or webcasts of the event that you are attending.

“You release DNA Lounge and its designees, and each of their employees, successors, assignees, licensees and agents from and against any and all claims for invasion of rights of publicity, privacy, defamation, or other claims or causes of action arising out of the production, reproduction, distribution, broadcast, exhibition or other exploitation of the event you are attending.”

In this specific case, it seems that the person who filed the privacy complaint won the battle.  YouTube responded to Zawinski saying, “Thanks for your email.  We have removed the material in question for a privacy violation, pursuant to our Community Guidelines.”  However, the video is still online on Vimeo (embedded below), Zawinski has posted pictures of a few of the possible privacy complainers on his blog post and who knows how many other unsuspecting partygoers have and will be caught on tape.

Ryan Tate of Gawker gives some great advice: “If you’re going to do something you regret at a nightclub, maybe pick the club without the gigantic privacy disclaimer at the front door.  If something you’re embarrassed about does end up online, ignore it if possible.”  I couldn’t agree with Ryan more.  Zawinski’s backlash as a result of the YouTube takedown is likely to draw even more attention to the video (which still has yet to be taken off Vimeo) as well as to the clubber who submitted the privacy complaint (if she is, indeed, one of the women Zawinski has posted on his blog).  In any case, I don’t think the complainer, whoever she (or he) is, will be taking privacy notices lightly anytime soon.

Image above is a screenshot from the DNA Lounge video, though it was not taken during the two seconds in question in the privacy violation.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.