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Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


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Old December 4th, 2007, 01:42 AM   #1
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need direction

If you have an instructional video(DVD) you want to sell locally and on the net, what steps do you need to take after you have a finished product. Is there legally anything that needs to be on the packaging or video? If someone can point me in a direction, that would be great. thank you.
Chuck Coleman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4th, 2007, 03:15 AM   #2
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For starters, I can't give you (or anyone else who is not my client) legal advice. Even if I was inclined to give you legal advice (which I cannot), I couldn't do so without knowing a lot more about your project. Accordingly, this is general information only and may or may not be applicable to your project. It is also not intended as a comprehensive list -- it's just off the top of my head (and it's quite late as I write this), so you should not rely on it:

1. As a rule, there are no statutory requirements for labeling of expressive speech, e.g. videos. However . . .

2. If a video contains someone else's protected expression, used with permission, the license granting that permission will usually require some form of attribution, i.e. credit. Failure to include the specified credit breaches the license, voids the permission to use the material, and renders such material infringing of the underlying copyright. Strict compliance with the provisions of any license is critical.

3. If the video itself contains trademarks or service marks (for which permission is not needed provided their use does not result in a likelihood of consumer confusion as to source, sponsorship or affiliation -- trademark infringement -- or dilution or tarnishment of a famous mark). Frequently, however, a disclaimer identifying the owners of the mark will be included to obviate the possibility of consumer confusion (this is not complete protection, however).

4. If the video contains the protected expression of others and is truly fair use (and no lay person can make that determination with any level of confidence), no attribution is necessary. I'll say it again, since I see this urban myth quite frequently on the internet: attribution is irrelevant to a determination of fair use as the doctrine assumes use without permission.

5. Using industry service marks, such as the DVD logo, the DTS logo, etc., generally requires permission -- failure to obtain permission results in trademark infringement.

6. It is a good idea to include a copyright notice, even though U.S. law no longer requires it for copyright protection. Using it provides prima facie proof of intentional copyright infringement in the even someone duplicates the video without permission.

7. Instructional videos provide additional areas of concern. Under many state's laws, including California, if you hold yourself out as an expert and someone reasonably relies on the advice you provide to their detriment you can be liable for negligence if your advice is incorrect (or reasonably misunderstood). You can disclaim negligent liability to some extent. However, if the instructional video is about something that carries a significant risk of injury or property loss, you can incur liability for gross negligence. Gross negligence is not disclaimable. I can also think of situtations in which, conceivably, you could incur criminal liability, e.g. a video called, "How to Safely Skydive without a Parachute." On the other hand, a video called, "Color Correction Tips for Adobe Premiere Pro" could probably disclaim any potential negligence liability (though see above re: trademarks). Note, too, that a liability disclaimer doesn't mean you won't be sued -- it only means there is less chance that you'll be held liable.

8. Videos with adult content (which is not the same as obscene content -- obscenity has a legal definition, state law may use something substantially different and far more vague) may have special labeling requirements pursuant to applicable state law. This is particularly true with respect to providing notice re: suitability for minors. Note, too, that it is not at all difficult for a court in a state other than where you live and from where you distribute your video to obtain jurisdiction over you, i.e. you can be sued outside your own state and the laws of the state in which are sued, rather than your own, will apply.

I hate to say it but, as with most questions that implicate legal obligations and potential liability, the only advice I can and will give you is to consult an attorney competent to practice in this area. Most attorneys will provide a free initial consultation at which they will give you an estimate of total costs. If you call your local bar association, they should be able to provide a referral to someone who could help you.
Paul Tauger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 17th, 2008, 03:29 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Coleman View Post
If you have an instructional video(DVD) you want to sell locally and on the net, what steps do you need to take after you have a finished product. Is there legally anything that needs to be on the packaging or video? If someone can point me in a direction, that would be great. thank you.
do not forget your own copyright date, a paragraph stating none of the images are allowed to be used without permission, and the FBI warning about copyright at the beginning of the video.
Allen Plowman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 17th, 2008, 09:39 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Allen Plowman View Post
do not forget your own copyright date, a paragraph stating none of the images are allowed to be used without permission, and the FBI warning about copyright at the beginning of the video.
Of course, none of this is legally required, which was the OP's question, though it doesn't hurt to include it.
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