Sorry, Raptors fans — there really is no free lunch, even if it’s just a few chicken nuggets.
Thousands of fans who waited in line to get into downtown Toronto’s Jurassic Park viewing area to watch the Raptors face the Golden State Warriors could also find themselves appearing in online promotions for McDonald’s and Uber.
That’s the price they have to pay for being in line while the fast-food giant and ride-hailing service handed out 6,000 free Chicken McNuggets to fans lined up around the block before Game 5 Monday night. The stunt was designed to promote a partnership between Uber Eats and McDonald’s that allows consumers to have fast food delivered to their door.
The only warning? A brief legal disclaimer on signs posted outside Jurassic Park, in a public area on the Bay St. side of Scotiabank Arena.
The signs, which did not indicate who posted them and looked like something printed off on a laser printer at a copy shop, warned fans: “If you enter this area, you may appear, and you agree to appear, in such footage to be used by Uber or McDonald’s Canada in any and all media now known or later devised, worldwide, in perpetuity, which may include posts on social media.” Above that was a bold-faced warning: “YOU ARE BEING PHOTOGRAPHED.”
Former Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian said filming fans in a public space and using that footage in advertising may not be against the law — but she said it is an invasion of privacy.
“It’s questionable, let’s put it that way,” said Cavoukian, adding that it amounts to major corporations taking advantage of regular fans.
“It’s a public space, I get it. But they’re there to see the Raptors. All of a sudden, you’re in a TV ad, or online? You might not have wanted people to know that you were there, or who you were there with,” said Cavoukian.
In an emailed statement, Uber defended the filming, saying it’s nothing out of the ordinary, and that some companies don’t even warn people they’re being filmed in a public space.
“Companies filming publicly is a regular occurrence in Toronto and disclosing filming is industry best practice to ensure individuals are aware,” the statement read.
McDonald’s didn’t immediately return request for comment. A spokesperson for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Raptors, was en route to Game 6 in California and couldn’t immediately be reached.
Cavoukian, though, questioned whether signs would be effective in such a noisy, chaotic and crowded environment with thousands of cheering sports fans.
“A lot of people might not have seen the sign, or have read it,” Cavoukian said.
Still, fans are likely out of luck when it comes to making a legal claim against Uber or McDonald’s — whether they were in a public space or not, said lawyer Lee Akazaki, a partner at Toronto law firm Gilbertson Davis.
“We have an ‘intrusion on seclusion’ principle when it comes to privacy law in Canada. With the nature of that space and why people are going down there, there really isn’t an expectation of privacy,” said Akazaki.
And while a public figure might be able to sue for their image being used in an ad, ordinary fans would have a much harder time, Akazaki said. It’s a matter of how much that image is worth.
“If you happen to be one person in a crowd of thousands, that really doesn’t have much value. If a celebrity’s there and they take their picture then put it on pop bottles to help sell them and they hadn’t consented to that, it’s different,” said Akazaki.
Josh Rubin is a Toronto-based business reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @starbeer