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Copy right question

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tel jaba
Copy right question
on Aug 19, 2009 at 8:15:01 am

Hey guys
I don't know if this is the right forum for this kind of question but
I am working on a documentary and one interviewee talks about some companies and I was wondering if I could use the logos of these companies as a B Roll (I downloaded from the web)
for example,the Coka Cola logo

many thanks in advance


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Mike Smith
Re: Copy right question
on Aug 19, 2009 at 1:08:48 pm

What would a bare logo add to your program ...?
http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Copy right question
on Aug 19, 2009 at 3:35:49 pm

[Mike Smith] "What would a bare logo add to your program ...? "

Mike,

As I'm sure you know, one of the most challenging things that faces any documentary editor sitting all alone in his/her cramped edit bay without the luxury of shooting additional material, is finding cutaways that the nice people who had all the fun out in the field shooting the zillions hours of talking heads failed to provide. So, cutting to a logo might at least give him something to cut to.

With regard to his use of the company logos, I think the context is an important consideration and Tel Jaba should probably give us at least some idea of what the interviewees are saying about those companies so that we can better advise him.

David

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Mike Smith
Re: Copy right question
on Aug 20, 2009 at 10:08:46 am

Hi David

My answer was meant to be helpful. The copyright link at the gov site has the answers to his legal question. But from a programme making perspective, cutting in logos when companies are referred to must be close to bottom. Thinking about finding, shooting, asking for, demanding appropriate b roll, or even generating something interesting in AE or Motion and playing with the interview shots, might add more than showing us the Eiffel tower whenever we mention Paris ... unless it's a comedy of course.

All best.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Copy right question
on Aug 20, 2009 at 4:12:55 pm

[Mike Smith] "But from a programme making perspective, cutting in logos when companies are referred to must be close to bottom. "

Mike,

As Nick has pointed out with his most elegant concept, there are many possible alternatives to an insert of a simple logo, and with time and money I'm sure we could put our collective heads together and come up with some several more wonderful ideas (none as good as Nick's I'm sure).

However, creative brainstorming wasn't the original question here on the old B&M Forum, and what's right for Tel Jaba's project is probably best decided by those like himself who know what the project demands. As I pointed out initially and as others have agreed, we'd should really know the context in order to give him the help he needs, and that would hold true even if he did ask for our creative help.

David

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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grinner hester
Re: Copy right question
on Aug 19, 2009 at 8:41:33 pm

The whole point of registering a trademenrk is to protect ir against use without permission. While you can spend some time trying to get permissions, as a viewer I fail to see how these logos will help your documentary. I know what coke is. I don't need to see a logo to understand it better.



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Chris Blair
Re: Copy right question
on Aug 20, 2009 at 3:44:51 am

I spent several years making grant supported documentary films. If you're producing a legitimate, journalistic based film or video, and a company is involved in that story, copyright law doesn't prohibit you from showing that company's logo in your video or film.

Even if you go on to sell the rights to that film and make oodles of money from it (which almost NEVER happens), they have no legitimate claims against you for copyright abuse on infringement.

Now...you do open yourself up to defamation if you make claims or statements that aren't well sourced and of course based in fact. It would be like CNN getting in trouble for showing the coca-cola logo while doing a news piece about the sugar content in soft drinks. Nobody can argue that soda has a lot of sugar. As long as what they report is accurate, not incendiary and doesn't make claims that could damage coca-cola's reputation, it would be difficult for coca-cola to get upset or do anything actionable because their logo was used in the piece.

Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock and others (whether you like them or not) have made careers out of harpooning corporate America. The least of a company's worry when they take aim is whether or not their logo was used in the program.

I'm certainly no attorney, but in the course of making documentaries, your freedom to use a company's logo is really dependent on the content and veracity of your story.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Nick Griffin
Re: Copy right question
on Aug 20, 2009 at 11:15:17 am

If you can shoot (or get something shot) why not just capture some B-roll of a slow pan by or rack focus through a group of Coke bottles? That would be WAY more interesting than just putting up their logo.


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Todd Terry
Re: Copy right question
on Aug 20, 2009 at 2:58:22 pm

No disrespect intended to the other posters who tried to be helpful and did indeed share some valid points... but tel jaba wasn't looking for aesthetic or directorial advice. It might be appreciated (or might not)... but rather it was a question of legality that was sought.

As was intimated here before... it's the context that is the key, and whether there is any defamation of the product or company. In a true documentary, it should be fine to show logos in the context of referencing a company that is being discussed.

The problem, again, comes from the issue as to whether the logo is used in a context that somehow defames the company. If so, in that case there could be libel issues.

Now... just because you do say something negative about a company or show their logo in a bad light, that doesn't necessarily mean you have done something wrong or something that is legally actionable. The defense for libel is whether something is provably true. Now, note the exact wording there... it doesn't matter if something is simply true, it has to be provably true.

Being able to prove it is the important part.

Let's say Michael Moore is making one of his documentaries, another about the auto industry. And let's say he says XYZ Motors laid off 1500 workers last month. Is that liable? No, not if those workers were really laid off and one can prove that (which should be easy enough). But lets say he says XYZ Motors makes cars that explode and kill people and that XYZ has known about this problem for years and done nothing about it. Is that libel? Maybe. Even if it is true, and even if we all know that it is true, unless Moore can prove that it is true he is open for a libel suit.

To complicate things more, let's say Moore refers to a consumer advocate that says XYZ's cars explode. Is that libel? Possibly, but probably not. Moore isn't saying that the company kills people... he's saying that the other guy says that. If he has the other guy saying that on film, he has met the burden of proof for the libel defense... i.e. provable truth. The guy said what he said, and Moore can prove that he said it. It's the other guy that has opened himself up for allegations of defamation.

But remember, Tort Reform laws are pretty loosey goosey, and people can sue anybody for anything at any time. It doesn't matter if they are right. It doesn't matter if they don't have a case that can stand up. It only matters that they have enough money to find a lawyer who will file a suit, no matter how frivolous it might be.

I think it's better to err on the side of caution.... unless one has very deep pockets.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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grinner hester
Re: Copy right question
on Aug 20, 2009 at 3:10:28 pm

all I can say is if I saw my ragistered trademark pop up in any flick, somebody would be writing me a much fatter check than if they called me before hand.



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Todd Terry
Re: Copy right question
on Aug 20, 2009 at 3:21:12 pm

[grinner hester] "somebody would be writing me a much fatter check than if they called me before hand."

Maybe... but only if they defamed, slandered, or misrepresented you in an actionable libelous way, or misappropriated your trademark as something other than yours (for example, saying it was theirs).

Otherwise, you'd get bupkus (except of course a bill from your lawyer).


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Chris Blair
Re: Copy right question
on Aug 21, 2009 at 12:42:59 am

Todd is correct. We recently won a lawsuit against a large, well-known company that skipped out on a rather large set of invoices.

They didn't even challenge it...didn't dispute we did the work and didn't dispute they owed us the money. Guess what we've gotten so far? A nice chunky bill from our attorney. Even after you win a lawsuit that involves a client skipping out on their bill, and even when it's clear and provable that the client is as wealthy as Mark Cuban and Bill Gates combined, it's YOUR responsibility to FIND the scumbucket's money and then force them to pay.

Well...not YOUR responsibility, but your attorney's. Who then charges you more to file motion after motion and deposition after deposition to try to prove where the scumbag's money is and prove it's tied to the enterprise that stiffed you.

So if somebody used Grinner's logo in their video, he'd probably be the one writing big fat checks to his attorney trying to get the people who used his logo to write him a big fat check. Oh no..my eyes just went cross-eyed.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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