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Legalities of filming at a dog park?

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stan welksLegalities of filming at a dog park?
by on Jul 7, 2015 at 3:38:43 am

I want to shoot some video of my dog at a dog park. I will do my best to not get any people into the shot, though I would like for my dog to play with other dogs in a shot. The footage will be part of a longer video that will be distributed online.

1. How do I know if I can legally film, and use this footage from the dog park?
2. Are there issues with filming my dog playing with other dogs? Do I need release forms to show other dogs in my video?


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Jonathan ZieglerRe: Legalities of filming at a dog park?
by on Jul 7, 2015 at 1:30:31 pm

First off: I'm no lawyer. If you want a definitive answer, talk to a real one. That said:

Don't worry about the releases for the dogs unless they have ads on them (I'm guessing they wont). As for the people, if you are showing people playing with their dogs in a park, you won't need a release since it's a public place and nobody is selling anything or has big huge logos on them. Worry more about logos in the distance.

Devils advocate time: if you can get a release from the people and their dogs (dogs are a property release), then it can't hurt, but you only need to have a release if you are selling something or promoting something. I used to think you always needed a release, but it's only if you are selling something or pushing an idea. Most people are just being safe which is smart, but don't let it stop you from shooting.

Save early. Save often.

Jonathan Ziegler

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stan welksRe: Legalities of filming at a dog park?
by on Jul 16, 2015 at 8:22:44 pm

1. What is the issue with showing logos in the distance on a video? If anything, isn't this free advertising for the company that owns the logos?

2. The videos I shoot will likely be uploaded to Youtube and monetized with ads. Does that change everything with regards to releases?

Thank you.

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Jonathan ZieglerRe: Legalities of filming at a dog park?
by on Jul 17, 2015 at 3:11:12 pm

Coca cola is the big example here: they have sued and won a few times where their logo appeared nonchalantly in the background, but prominent enough to be seen clearly. They claimed, among other things, dissolution of brand and, basically, misusing a registered trademark without permission. A logo or any other copyrighted or trademarked material is subject to laws. If the logo is unclear or blurred it's not likely an issue. If you are shooting something for profit, it can be argued that you are attempting to use a logo fraudulently.

Mind you, these are preventative measures - the people who own the trademark or logo may never see your videos and if they did, they could throw a fit. Then again, they might not. It's that unknown you are trying to mitigate.

As for YouTube, I've never had a video removed for content, but I have been denied monetization because of something in a video. I used part of a recording I was assured was public domain only to discover that another company disagreed. I lost monetization which was no big deal, but it was the whole point of the video. YouTube won't do much: if someone flags your video and says there's a copyright or other intellectual property issue, they will take down the video at the worst, but someone can still sue you. Doesn't mean they'll win, but it can still cost you.

One last thing: this is all based on my freelance, non-attorney, understanding of copyright and trademark law. If you're really worried about it, I say get releases as often as possible (you really can't go wrong by getting them) and talk to an IP lawyer - I can't give you legal advice but they can.

Save early. Save often.

Jonathan Ziegler

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Todd TerryRe: Legalities of filming at a dog park?
by on Jul 17, 2015 at 3:33:33 pm

999 times out of a thousand you don't have to worry about logos at all. People seem to get all up in arms about that, but really it's virtually a non-issue.

If there was a complete avoidance of all logos, it would be almost impossible to make a movie these days, anywhere except on a completely sanitized soundstage. Watch the scenes shot on location the next time you see a movie or TV show. If they were to avoid all logos, you'd never see an actor drive a car, take a drink, make a phone call, pick up a pencil, use a computer, wear clothes, or even walk down the street. Logos can't be avoided in today's world... and that's fine. Yes, some of the logos you see are "cleared" (and many of them are purposeful product placements), but many many are not.

Showing a logo incidentally is a total non-issue (someone wearing a Polo shirt with the horseman logo on it, a character driving a Mercedes with the hood ornament visible, or someone using an iPhone). All that's fine, you don't even have to think twice about it. What you can't do, is use that logo in a disparaging or negative way (i.e., conjecturing that the Polo shirts are poorly made, that Mercedes was the preferred car of the Nazis, or that the iPhones are made in Chinese sweatshops). Well, you can show them in that light, but that risks becoming libelous and much more likely to find you on the business end of a cease-and-desist mandate, or at worst, a lawsuit.

So, mostly you don't have to worry about it at all. If you want to play it safe, just avoid logos of companies with reputations of being litigious about it (i.e., Disney, etc.), but you don't have to go crazy about it by any means.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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