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Political ad question

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John DavidsonPolitical ad question
by on Sep 6, 2010 at 10:57:02 pm

Hey guys,
I'm doing a few political ads and have been scouring the web for an affordable site to get royalty free photos of elected officials. Obviously I can't steal someone's photo, but I'd love to know where you get your photos. So far I'm coming up blank. Also, is there a site for producers out there that describes political ad rules for newbies like myself?

Thanks all,
John


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Todd TerryRe: Political ad question
by on Sep 6, 2010 at 11:50:37 pm

Political ad rules can be wildly complicated.... moreso because almost every type of election requires different rules.

Most of the rules have to do with legal disclaimers... exactly what the disclaimer must say, exactly how big it must be, exactly where it must appear, and exactly how long its duration is. As a very general rule the disclaimer must say "Paid for by...", must appear at the end of the spot, must be exactly 20 NTSC scan lines or taller, and must appear for at least 4.5 seconds.

BUT... those are just guidelines. They can vary from race to race. Some allow the disclaimers at the beginning, some do not. There are specific exceptions... such as US Congressional or Senate races must have the candidate's voice saying "I'm John Doe and I approved this message" either at the beginning or at the end. And you must see the candidate while those words are being spoken (they don't have to be saying them voice on camera, but you have to see them). A couple of other particular races have that requirement as well, but most do not. And it can vary from state to state.

There are sometimes picky additional disclaimers. For example, right now we are doing a couple of state senate races and both candidates happen to be former soldiers and Iraq war veterans. In spots where they are seen in uniform in war photos, additional disclaimers are needed that basically say that the candidate is not endorsed by the Department of Defense. There is very specific verbage that is required.

As you can see, sadly there are no hard and fast rules that encompass all races. It's usually best to kick that ball back to the candidate's campaign manager... usually they are familiar with the particular rules in the specific race they are in... or can find out for you.

T2

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



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John DavidsonRe: Political ad question
by on Sep 6, 2010 at 11:53:00 pm

These are actually advocacy ads for a ballot initiative here in California, so a there's no specific candidate - however I'm sure the advocacy group will need a byline if nothing else. The biggest issues I'm having is finding political photos of candidates I can use legally. Any ideas?


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Craig SeemanRe: Political ad question
by on Sep 7, 2010 at 1:33:12 am

Some candidate sites have press kits or will give you access to them if you ask. That doesn't cover whether it would be legal to use. If these are candidates who have stated they support the proposition and they find it politically expedient, they may give you permission (get that in writing ideally).

There's a lot of grey area when using pixs of candidates in less flattering ways. It's common in negative campaign spots so, depending on the source, it's not necessarily illegal. I've done a few political spots. When possible we send out our own camera person to video the opposition.



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Todd TerryRe: Political ad question
by on Sep 7, 2010 at 4:42:15 am

Well, as for the photos.... there's two ways to legally get them... either buy them, or take them.

If we are talking about national politicians, their images will be widely available for purchase from most of the usual stock image companies. If you are talking about men and women more on the state or local level... hit the other media outlets. Newspapers and other publications or news organizations may have photography available which they can make available as well as sell you the rights to.

Or... take them. Either go yourself to some public events where you know these politicians will be attending (their offices may even confirm schedules), or hire a photographer and send him or her. Or, talk with a media person in advance who will be covering some event where your subject is likely or sure to appear (such as a newspaper photographer) and see if they will piggyback a freelance gig on top of their regular work that day and shoot what you need.

And yes, even a non-candidate spot such as one for an advocacy group does indeed require the proper and legal on-screen disclaimers. And yes, the television stations do check for their legality. In a previous life when I worked for a television station, the production department often found itself interrupted during political seasons as the traffic department was always barging in to check the specs on a political spot that just came in and had to get on the air right away. That checking was mostly about disclaimers... if the verbage was one word wrong, or the disclaimer was up for even one frame short, or if the typeface was even one pixel too small (literally), they would bounce the spot and not air it.

T2

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



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John DavidsonRe: Political ad question
by on Sep 7, 2010 at 7:55:11 am

Thanks guys. Dreamstime was coming up empty and I was just curious if there was a "Newssource" type resource for this type of thing.
Cheers,
John


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grinner hesterRe: Political ad question
by on Sep 7, 2010 at 11:37:15 pm

Google images is fine for these, man.



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Todd TerryRe: Political ad question
by on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:10:55 am

Grinner... I know you have a hard-earned and well-deserved reputation as a maverick (which I think you enjoy), but you are advising John to do something that is patently illegal. Fortunately due to the fact that he started this post asking about image sources, I imagine he knows that and is trying to seek legal means.

Finding a pic via Google images certainly is easy... but that by no means gives you the rights to use it. Furthermore, you KNOW this spot will wind up on the advocacy group's website...or at minimum on YouTube. Where anyone can see it. Including those who may own the actual rights to the images.

Photographers are getting vigilant about protecting their property, just as music companies are. Reverse image-finders such as TinEye make it as easy as two mouse clicks for a photographer to find out if he or she has unauthorized copies of their images on the internet. And I know photographers who regularly do that.

Don't do that, John.

But you already knew that.

T2

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



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John DavidsonRe: Political ad question
by on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:19:39 am

Thanks guys - I think I'm just going to use a cutout without anybody's particular face. One idea I wanted to use was list, with pictures, all of the politicians who have admitted to violating the law that this particular ballot initiative in California aims to repeal. I'd rather not say more than that though :).

Because I'm not some 19 year old volunteer making a poorly crafted ad, I do have to be a tad more careful though. I'm a 36 yr old volunteer making a poorly crafted ad. Apparently there's a difference :).

Thanks for all the advice!


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grinner hesterRe: Political ad question
by on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:53:55 am

;)
I was only a maverick before Sarah Palin thought it was cool.
I'm not advising anything. First hand, though, I pulled 14 images from google today for a negative political spot. Will I catch any grief? Not even a little bit.



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Craig SeemanRe: Political ad question
by on Sep 8, 2010 at 1:00:02 am

Given they are public figures it might be covered under fair use since a political ad is political speech/commentary.

Recently a local candidate shot a video (they originated the video) of him trying to get interviews in the local media (similar to Michael More's search for Roger in Roger and Me). They video'd the receptionist at one location. He posted the video to YouTube and was forced to pull it down and edit the receptionist out. Reception had a right to privacy (not a public figure). That he had to edit the receptionist out got him media coverage.



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Todd TerryRe: Political ad question
by on Sep 8, 2010 at 4:30:35 am

[Grinner]"I pulled 14 images from google today for a negative political spot. Will I catch any grief? Not even a little bit."

Will you catch any grief? Possibly, though highly unlikey.

Will you get caught? Chances are pretty slim.

Is it legal? Pretty cut-and-dried that it's not.

Is it "right"? Ummm... nope.


"Fair use" is a pretty gray-area defense to call. Just ask artist Shepard Fairey. His famous trio-tone Obama "Hope" poster was simply based on another photograph, and his painting didn't even actually use the real photo. And even though it was not even a for-pay job, it still got him on the business end of a multi-million dollar lawsuit brought by the AP and photographer Mannie Garcia over rights violations.

People rip off other people's work all the time. Some people seem fine with doing that, others have a problem with it. All I know is that, personally, I've raised holy hell about it when it has happened to me on a couple of occasions.

T2

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



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