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Film Logo, any copyright violations?

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Brenden Younan
Film Logo, any copyright violations?
on Jul 12, 2018 at 12:45:18 am

I made this simple film company logo and was influenced a-bit by the 20th century fox logo as I loved the sunset and spotlight variations. Am I violating copyright? Not usually aware when it comes to copyright. Thanks









20th century


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Film Logo, any copyright violations?
on Jul 12, 2018 at 2:35:21 am
Last Edited By Dave LaRonde on Jul 12, 2018 at 2:39:39 am

As long as you have created the sky background yourself or used properly-licensed stock footage, they can't touch you. Stealing visual ideas, then closely replicating their look on your own, is not copyright infringement.

A harsh but relief-inducing assessment, I guess.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Brenden Younan
Re: Film Logo, any copyright violations?
on Jul 12, 2018 at 2:53:12 am

Thanks Dave!


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Blaise Douros
Re: Film Logo, any copyright violations?
on Jul 12, 2018 at 3:29:20 pm

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different”.

--T.S. Eliot


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Steve Bentley
Re: Film Logo, any copyright violations?
on Jul 12, 2018 at 10:38:00 pm

I'm not so sure about Daves advice on that. I used to be a commercial illustrator. If I drew something based on a photograph, even if I only drew certain parts of the photo, I could be sued by the photographer, even though the illustration was 100% me (and in a different medium).
It comes down to: can the judge see enough of the original in your work? This goes double if the content is used in the same "marketing sphere". So a Studio bumper that is used in a similar way to your sort-of-copy studio bumper (like at the start of a film) would be too close, and a target for drooling lawyers.
If it causes brand confusion ("Hey, I didn't know that Brendan Films was a subsidiary of Fox! It must be, it feels like a Fox logo."), then that's a target for lawyers too. Remember they don't have to have a winnable case, they will just bankrupt you until you stop - a defense costs money too, win or lose.

The above is all moot if its a parody - then, anything goes.

But these things should be iconic. Why have people think of Fox when you want them to be focused on your brand. Be bold, forge your own brand and take a different path. I know what kind of film I'm about to watch before the Studio logo has even resolved because that "style" becomes so ingrained in the zeitgeist. It becomes like the game "Name That Tune": you know it in the first few frames.

And to add to Blaise's post:

Good artists copy;
Great artists steal outright!
-Picasso

And my addition:
Great artists are rich enough to get away with it. (and have really good lawyers!)



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Brenden Younan
Re: Film Logo, any copyright violations?
on Jul 13, 2018 at 12:35:43 am

[Steve Bentley] "Why have people think of Fox when you want them to be focused on your brand. Be bold, forge your own brand and take a different path. I know what kind of film I'm about to watch before the Studio logo has even resolved because that "style" becomes so ingrained in the zeitgeist. It becomes like the game "Name That Tune": you know it in the first few frames."

Absolutely. I am still experimenting with this logo no doubt. What I noticed is most big logo companies use the sky background. I'm just a young creator trying to fit in haha













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Steve Bentley
Re: Film Logo, any copyright violations?
on Jul 13, 2018 at 4:01:42 am

Don't try and fit in, you'll end up looking like everyone else - the name of the game is "get noticed", stand out.

Fox's searchlights, sky and big hulking art-deco logo is iconic because we associate it with iconic movies; I still expect "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away ..." to pop up after I hear that fanfare no matter what movie it's in front of. Their styling also hearkens back to the golden age of Hollywood, (as does WB, MGM and Columbia), but the current generation has no clue of that era so it's a wasted reminder. (and, ahem, what century is it now?)
Same goes for the other logo openers engraved on your soul: your brain has glued the brand of the company onto the movie that you love. Are you drawn to the logo because of the movie that follows?

Frankly, those sky ones (you forgot TriStar's pegasus flying out of the clouds - which I always mix up with Columbia's, and Lionsgate just sitting in the clouds -before they added the incongruous gears. Disney starts in and ends in clouds, SKG is all clouds, and then theirs Bruckheimer's desert clouds) but all these blend together, losing brand differentiation because of the clouds, and they are as tired as that tortured lion. I wonder too if clouds are the goto thing when the designer can't think of anything better. I'm sure it is some Freudian thing they are trying to project on us - to do with heaven and dreaming and seeing pictures in the clouds and the view from Mulholland, but it's been done to death.
At least Paramount is fun because they tend to blend the logo into the style of the movie, the skimming stars changing to match the movies content. (WB and Universal do this frequently too - remember "The Matrix" opening?).

Then there are the one with common themes used in others - the lighting used in Bruckheimer's, Touchstone's and Icon's. The stars skimming the water in Paramount's and Tinkerbell doing the same in Disney's (however, Tink was fired at some point in the recent past), the revolving camera (Disney, Saturn, Skydance, Spyglass, Fox, Universal, WB), and spotlights (Weinstein, Fox, CastleRock, Searchlight), and sunrises and edge glints pretending to be sunrises (Universal, New Line, Hollywood, CastleRock, Legendary, Summit). It's like once you get a corporate board involved, creativity goes out the 29th story window and they want what the other guy has because, hey, if they are successful, that stolen idea will make us successful too.

Remember too that most big studios are now owned by companies that don't make movies. They are bankers or soda makers or dot-com'ers. They have corporate boards and like to play it safe. "Safe" usually means boring or as noted above - design it like that other guy's.

Don't forget sound design and music. Turn off the music for Universal's logo - it's no where near as nice without that bombastically iconic track. Or the audible reminder from THX that you are about to have your ears imploded. (Dolby keeps changing theirs trying to find something as simply perfect)

Keep in mind too that as movies become more and more co-productions to spread the risk (we just finished one that had 6 animated production logos at the front) you may get less and less screen time to make your mark, so it better make a statement fast. Only the big boys get to have their logos linger on screen. Small companies get 3-6 seconds, tops.
JJ Abrams' Bad Robot couldn't be farther from the clouds and searchlights of Fox and yet it has instant recognition, even in a still. To me, good motion graphics design is just as iconic when there is no motion.

I'm a fan of all the iterations of Skydance's, as well as Focus, DMC, and of the clever Marvel comic book riffle - again this one looks good as a still too, and it evolves. DC starts with a good and different idea - the dots of comic book halftone in an eye - but falls flat at the final resolve (or is that just me reflecting on the movie that follows?).
Ridley and Tony's is also iconic, but often copied - again, making me look twice at the also-ran's - with me thinking, "Did Scott-Free change their opening?". Although that style (grease paint on glass) makes any subject matter look similar.

I saw an early version of Anchor Bay's and it was stunning. I'm not sure how they got to where they are now given the original.

Also, don't get caught up in plugs-ins. So much of what's hot in motion graphics comes from some new plug in that is released. The problem is, within a year, everyone is doing that effect and now you look like everyone else again - even if you were first.

Be the one others have to dig deep to copy.



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