Brands and logos? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > Taking Care of Business

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


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old July 6th, 2008, 01:48 PM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Posts: 48
Brands and logos?

I'm shooting a somewhat-of-a documentary thing, and it has to do with health, etc. I'm kind of new to the whole copyright/trademark thing (I think I understand the difference though), but I want to give some questions to just be sure.

Let's say that since this is a health thing, I have footage of someone's pantry or refrigerator and there are packages of various foods there; most of them are brands (boxes, etc). I mean come on, most of us have Ritz crackers in our pantries :P

...and since this is about health, of course there has to be a few brands/logos presented, at least in the background. Nowww.... this is where it gets tricky.


We all know that a lot of Americans are overweight, so it's only logical to 'show' people what's in the food that they're eating; and the problem lies in putting a lot of these foods in bad light. I'm not sure what route to take with this...

I was thinking of actually blurring out the logos of every single brand name that appears in the footage, and just use pictures and video of the nutrition facts/ingredients labels themselves. I'd actually be happy to just blur out the logos/brand names, because the nutrition facts labels are most important.


Most of us have probably seen Supersize Me though, right? McDonalds got a LOT of crap and they were put into bad light, so that kind of relieves me. I'm still not sure though.


And just for further info on my project, I am in NO WAY making money off of brand names and these logos; all of the footage that I'm shooting for this project is actually completely free and will be distributed online for promotion only. The money part is coming in with a paid product, and there will definitely -- by no means -- be any of these logos/brands present at any time in the paid video product.

To further the confusion, it's simply just 'footage' and at no time do I mention a single brand name or company; however, I do happen to say that -- and I say the following a lot -- 'food and drug companies are poisoning us/killing us', etc. Not necessarily that harsh all the time, but you get the idea.

The confusion I'm talking about here is that I make a general statement; I put food and drug companies that produce pharmaceuticals and chemicals (that are put into food) into very bad light, but never do I mention a single food or drug company with my voice (just have brand names/logos in the background). So... none of them have a shot taken at them directly.

What do you think about this?
Jared Gardner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 6th, 2008, 01:57 PM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Arlington, TX
Posts: 2,230
I think you are smart to not try and show any branded products.

Maybe you could show the actual food instead of the box the food is in.

Then bring in the nutrition information over the top with the food footage blurred underneath?


My consulting fee is $15,000 per hour, but you can have this one for free!
Tim Polster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 6th, 2008, 01:58 PM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Lewisburg PA
Posts: 752
I would use the companies' own argument.

McDonald's and others have consistently argued that their food is not harmful if enjoyed in moderation -- if some individuals choose to over indulge that's their own fault.

So you could say: "It's not your food that's being portrayed in a bad light, only an individual's over-indulgent behavior." See how they like that.
Peter Wiley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 6th, 2008, 02:01 PM   #4
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Posts: 48
At the moment, I couldn't even afford a bus over to Arlington, so the $15,000 thing is out of my budget :P


The thing is that absolutely no money is being made from this; it's simply a promotion deal -- to attract attention... But making cash from this will come in the future when an actual video product is released (which will have nothing like what I'm mentioning).

The entire idea of this -- which will also apply to future projects of mine -- is that I don't want some company suing me because I just so happened to have a can of coke laying around when filming. I'm not sure how all of this works.


What confuses me though is that the Supersize Me documentary (among others) blatantly puts companies into bad light, but they got away just fine with it. I'm still not sure what to do, so I'll wait for a few opinions on this, but I'm thinking that I'll have to blur out everything in the end.
Jared Gardner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 6th, 2008, 02:14 PM   #5
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Posts: 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Wiley View Post
So you could say: "It's not your food that's being portrayed in a bad light, only an individual's over-indulgent behavior." See how they like that.

I think that the approach that I'm going to have to take here is sticking with the 'general argument' which is verbal, and not have any brand or logo named, or present in the footage; I think this will be the best approach to make sure I'm 100% a-ok throughout this.

I want to give a really good example here.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/14/us/14florida.html


This is a definite fact here, and basically, the line 'drug companies are killing people' is going to be mentioned; however, the approach that I'm taking is to NOT name a specific drug or food company directly, just in case.

I'm thinking that I'll be fine if I just stir up some poo by saying general statements of the likes of 'food and drug companies are poisoning/killing us', but not name a specific one, and not have any brand name/logo present at any time... I think I'd be ok with that.

Another concern is getting sued by the FDA as a whole, because of course they'd be put into bad light as well. Maybe I worry a bit much, but still, the truth of a lot of these things don't get out because of it.


Thoughts?
Jared Gardner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 6th, 2008, 05:04 PM   #6
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jared Gardner View Post
I think that the approach that I'm going to have to take here is sticking with the 'general argument' which is verbal, and not have any brand or logo named, or present in the footage; I think this will be the best approach to make sure I'm 100% a-ok throughout this.

I want to give a really good example here.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/14/us/14florida.html


This is a definite fact here, and basically, the line 'drug companies are killing people' is going to be mentioned; however, the approach that I'm taking is to NOT name a specific drug or food company directly, just in case.

I'm thinking that I'll be fine if I just stir up some poo by saying general statements of the likes of 'food and drug companies are poisoning/killing us', but not name a specific one, and not have any brand name/logo present at any time... I think I'd be ok with that.

Another concern is getting sued by the FDA as a whole, because of course they'd be put into bad light as well. Maybe I worry a bit much, but still, the truth of a lot of these things don't get out because of it.


Thoughts?

Okay, here are my thoughts.

First, as I understand it, factual accuracy is a positive defense against any claim of libel or defamation.

Where you get into trouble is where you issue OPINION that casts a company in a negative light. Then you're responsible.

So if you hold up a box of Brand Name Crackers and point out that the label indicates "these have X grams of saturated fat per serving" - that is a fact. There's no way whatever conglomerate that owns said cracker brand can come back at you legally. You are not disparaging their brand if you simply state the truth. You can also compare 3 boxes of crackers and say that brand A has X grams, Brand B has Y grams, and Brand C has Z grams. Again facts..

You can also give CONTEXT to that number by doing verifiable research with a statement such as "generally accepted nutritional guidelines indicate that consuming more than X grams of saturated fat daily is not healthy"

Where you get into trouble is saying

"Eating more than X grams of saturated fat daily is unhealthy."

That is OPINION. It MAY be true in many cases for many people. But it's not a universal truth. And the moment you propose it, expect to see a sharp and articulate 94 year old black blues musician from the Mississippi delta who's diet consists primarily of bacon rinds and Jack Daniels who the cracker manufacturer puts on TV to screw up your tidy little thesis!

When you make documentaries, while a point of view is necessary, the BIG trouble comes when you skate over the issues of fairness and present ONLY those support facts or statistics that you know will enhance your thesis while disallowing any acknowledgment that there might be another side to the story.

The moment the audience discovers your inaccuracies or bias (and they WILL discover the truth in this information age) you lose all credibility.

And THAT is the real coin of the realm in the land of Documentaries.

So when you handle a branded product, don't worry overmuch about trying to hide stuff - worry about getting the FACTS right and presenting them in a clear and accurate manner.

That's what will keep your doc interesting AND, I suspect, legally defensible.

(That said, I am not a lawyer, this is NOT legal advice, and it's worth precisely what you've paid for it. The ONLY path to safety in this is to obtain qualified legal council in advance.)

Good luck
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 6th, 2008, 06:04 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Hillsborough, NC, USA
Posts: 968
Mention the product (or generic product - e.g., gelatin dessert), list the ingredients and then, using factual evidence (you'll have to research the scientific literature), state the known health issues with specific ingredients. e.g., point out soybean oil and then state the truth of its production and toxicology. I mention this example because soy is portrayed as the ultimate health food (you could list soy milk, soy yoghurt, soy this, soy that) yet, at the levels it is being consumed in the west, it has known toxicity issues. Blatant misrepresentation by the companies reliant on this multibillion (not green, local, fairtrade) crop. You could simply walk down the aisle of a supermarket (if they let you) and pull every product off the shelf that contains ingredients known to be a risk to health. Pull them quickly and put them in a cart. The logos etc on most won't be visible but the impact will.
John Miller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 6th, 2008, 08:08 PM   #8
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Posts: 48
Thanks a lot for the replies. Very informative.


I've considered everything that has been mentioned in this thread, and as of now, I'm thinking that the best route to take will be to make sure of it that I've got obvious facts to back all of this up; and trust me that the research on this stuff has taken me longer than all of the planning, filming, and editing involved in this combined -- years, even.

The reason I've decided to ultimately do this is because I started researching these things years ago, and there is definitely more than enough freely-provided evidence that shows that these things are no good. The bias will be there of course, but it won't be there without the facts that I've been putting together.

The doing-it-quickly method (footage of some kind of item, but it happens so fast that you can't see the logo) has crossed my mind; however, I've got footage shot already, so I'm thinking of just blurring out where necessary. Blurring will be necessary, because the footage I have (the way it's shot) is just too good to not use =)


Thanks again.
Jared Gardner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 6th, 2008, 11:37 PM   #9
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Arlington, TX
Posts: 2,230
Jared,

You mentioned the "Super Size Me" movie.

Have you done research to know what they did with trademarks ect...?

Maybe they did have to pay something to use the trademark names?

Sort of a behind the scenes kind of info.
Tim Polster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 7th, 2008, 09:40 AM   #10
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Memphis, TN
Posts: 118
From what I remember about Supersize Me is that the filmmaker didn't actually state opinions. He said he would eat McDonald's for 30 days, stated some guidelines, and also had medical check-ups and stated how he himself felt. He never said anything like "McDonald's is doing this to me". McDonald's I think did try and fight it but since the film had distribution and a little legal weight behind it that McDonald's didn't want the publicity of fighting it.

If you're fine with blurring the image then if something did come up you can always go back and blur it. I always find that humrous because most products are still recognizable from the colors and shape of logos.
Edward Phillips is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 7th, 2008, 11:30 AM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: San Diego, California
Posts: 505
Yes, modern pixelizers and blurrers intended for anonymization use randomized convolution functions that are quite effective in masking identity.

The following should not be construed as legal advice, since I am not a lawyer. It's worth buying one hour of a good legal attorney's time and fire questions at them. My non-lawyer take, for what it's worth (nothing) is that you really need to avoid lawsuits completely, regardless of whether you would win them or not, unless you have the financial wherewithal to respond. If someone sues you, regardless of the merit, you will need to defend (or at least respond) to that suit, otherwise you could be subject to a default/summary judgment. Getting a lawyer on board to defend (what you consider) a baseless lawsuit is potentially expensive, not to mention issues of where that suit is filed. Large companies will have well-staffed legal departments and the financial clout to use them. Pick your battles.

There's a great cartoon in an old Mad Magazine that shows a guy and his wife in a tiny sailboat, with a huge cruise ship coming at them. The woman looks terrified, but the guy is smiling and says "relax honey, we have the right of way".
Greg Quinn is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > Taking Care of Business

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:22 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network