Videos by pickup artists not il­le­gal

YouTube clips more an eth­i­cal dilemma than a le­gal one

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - TORONTO -

Casey Grace Fer­ney­hough and her friends were en­joy­ing a walk through Trin­ity-Bell­woods Park about five years ago when a man saun­tered by and be­gan hit­ting on them. Per­sis­tently.

It wasn’t un­til the man moved on to another group of girls that Fer­ney­hough no­ticed a sec­ond man fol­low­ing from a few me­tres away with a cam­era. Two months later, she dis­cov­ered the YouTube video the pair made of their at­tempts to pick up other women in the park that day.

As nasty of a sur­prise as it may be to find a se­cretly recorded video of you posted on­line, there’s very lit­tle that women in them can do about it.

The is­sue of record­ing peo­ple in pub­lic with­out their con­sent made head­lines this month af­ter Cal­gary po­lice ar­rested a man they al­lege posted voyeuris­tic pho­tos and videos of var­i­ous women to Twit­ter un­der the name CanadaCreep.

CanadaCreep veered into il­le­gal ter­ri­tory by shoot­ing video up women’s skirts, which is a crim­i­nal of­fence.

But record­ing some­one in pub­lic space isn’t il­le­gal. Though a civil case might be pos­si­ble, it would be dif­fi­cult to win, said Ber­nice Karn, a lawyer with the law firm Cas­sels Brock. “The be­hav­iour would have to be fairly out­ra­geous for there to be any like­li­hood of suc­cess,” Karn said in an email.

The tech­niques used in videos made by self-styled “pickup artists” are more sub­tle, pre­sent­ing more of an eth­i­cal dilemma than a le­gal one.

More than 77,000 peo­ple fol­low 30-year-old Vadim Dorf­man’s Toronto-based YouTube chan­nel, which is ded­i­cated to teach­ing men how to se­duce prospec­tive dates and im­prove their lives us­ing real-life ex­am­ples.

Though some of the women know the cam­era is rolling, many have no idea. Dorf­man and his busi­ness part­ner, 24-yearold Austen Sangfroid, of­ten use a hid­den cam­era­man or a GoPro planted in their apart­ment.

Most videos on the chan­nel show one of them talk­ing to women on the street.

But in one ti­tled How To Pre­pare Your Place For Sex (with real ex­am­ples), women ap­pear in var­i­ous stages of un­dress with strate­gic blur­ring of their faces and breasts. Oth­ers are shown kiss­ing Dorf­man, then be­ing car­ried into a bed­room. Dorf­man con­firmed that not all know they’re be­ing recorded, but that he tries to hide their iden­ti­ties as much as pos­si­ble.

Since the blur­ring ob­scures their iden­ti­ties, post­ing such footage doesn’t ap­pear to be il­le­gal, said Toronto po­lice Const. Allyson Dou­glas-Cook.

Though the pair say they rec­og­nize the sub­jects of their videos might find it “creepy,” they say se­crecy is nec­es­sary to prove the prod­uct works — a prod­uct they say has helped change their cus­tomers’ lives, giv­ing them con­fi­dence and lift­ing them out of de­pres­sion.

In the four years since Dorf­man be­gan post­ing videos us­ing the ac­count, called Hon­est Sig­nalz, it’s grown into a full-time busi­ness. He and Sangfroid charge thou­sands of dol­lars for in-per­son work­shops.


Austen Sangfroid, left, and Vadim Dorf­man in a video from Hal­loween for their ‘pickup artist’ YouTube chan­nel.

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