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Taking Care of Business
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Old September 1st, 2009, 11:12 AM   #1
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Need release for video of exterior?

If I film, from the sidewalk, the public exterior of a buisness, do I need to get a release or permission from the owner of that business if said shot is used in a commercial DVD?
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Old September 1st, 2009, 09:32 PM   #2
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If I film, from the sidewalk, the public exterior of a buisness, do I need to get a release or permission from the owner of that business if said shot is used in a commercial DVD?
Is the company logo or name visible? If so, you probably do (unless you blur / crop it out).
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Old September 2nd, 2009, 04:41 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply, Jason.

So you're saying if I have a business called "Arthur's Chili Parlor" and you include a brief shot of the exterior of my place in a commercial DVD--even if it's in the background--you have to get a release from me? Excuse me but that just seems incredible. You can film people in public without their permission but you can't film a building with a sign on it??
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Old September 2nd, 2009, 04:43 PM   #4
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I said "probably" I am no lawyer but I'd rather not get sued by the one representing the pizza joint when I duplicate their logo in an unauthorized work.

I never said it was fair either. Also, news stations get away with it because there are different rules that apply to news as opposed to purely commercial works.
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Old September 2nd, 2009, 06:07 PM   #5
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Just found this at Stanford University law site:

"Copyright protection also extends to architectural works, specifically for architectural works created after March 1, 1989. However copyright protection also has limitations. A release is not needed to photograph a building or property visible from a public place. However, permission is needed to photograph and reproduce images of a building protected by copyright and not visible from a public place. Entering private property to photograph a building or related private property may also trigger a claim of trespass. To avoid such claims, photographers, publishers and filmmakers use a property release, sometimes known as a location release."

Stanford Copyright & Fair Use - Interview and Property Releases
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 07:08 AM   #6
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Just found this at Stanford University law site:

"Copyright protection also extends to architectural works, specifically for architectural works created after March 1, 1989. However copyright protection also has limitations. A release is not needed to photograph a building or property visible from a public place. However, permission is needed to photograph and reproduce images of a building protected by copyright and not visible from a public place. Entering private property to photograph a building or related private property may also trigger a claim of trespass. To avoid such claims, photographers, publishers and filmmakers use a property release, sometimes known as a location release."

Stanford Copyright & Fair Use - Interview and Property Releases
Your issue is not the design or appearance of the building itself, it is the name and logos, the identity, of the business.

You're using the term "commercial DVD" but what are you actually shooting and what do you intend to do with it? By "commercial DVD" do you mean it is a video that will be distributed in retail sale on a DVD or submiitted to film festivals, a program (fiction or documentary?) that will offered to broadcasters, or are you talking about shooting a commercial for broadcast that is delivered to the station on DVD?

IMHO, as a legal layperson, is that if the business just happens to be visible in the background you don't need to worry about it. But if it's a focal point for action in the film, say two characters are in dialog at a sidewalk cafe in front of it or the robbers duck into its doorway to shoot at cops chasing them or it's pointed out in the script "Let's meet up at that store over there when we're done." while we see the character pointing at it, you better get the release.
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 09:54 AM   #7
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The other consideration is what the purpose of including the building in question is: are you doing an "investigative journalism" piece whereby you're shooting it to say "people who eat at Happy Clown Restaurant get fat and die"... that's a whole OTHER legal issue only marginally related to the building in question.
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Old September 4th, 2009, 09:39 AM   #8
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The DVD is about Asheville, NC. For example I do a six-second clip of a Bed and Breakfast from the sidewalk, showing their sign, in a section on a neighborhood of old Victorians. I show interesting shop fronts and their signs at times, etc. There is nothing derogatory. Everything is obviously promoting the beauty of the city and area. We have a permit to film in public from the city.
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Old September 4th, 2009, 09:41 AM   #9
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The DVD is for retail sale and is about Asheville, NC. For example I do a six-second clip of a Bed and Breakfast from the sidewalk, showing their sign, in a section on a neighborhood of old Victorians. I show interesting shop fronts and their signs at times, etc. There is nothing derogatory. Everything is obviously promoting the beauty of the city and area. We have a permit to film in public from the city.
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Old September 4th, 2009, 12:03 PM   #10
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The DVD is for retail sale and is about Asheville, NC. For example I do a six-second clip of a Bed and Breakfast from the sidewalk, showing their sign, in a section on a neighborhood of old Victorians. I show interesting shop fronts and their signs at times, etc. There is nothing derogatory. Everything is obviously promoting the beauty of the city and area. We have a permit to film in public from the city.
So since you're there filming anyway, before you roll tape why don't you pop in and ask their permission?
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Old September 4th, 2009, 02:41 PM   #11
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Sounds like you're giving free advertising/promotion for their business - should be a no-brainer, with a simple release form.

Simple IQ test - free advertising/no free advertising, sign here... and you're covered.
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Old September 4th, 2009, 03:05 PM   #12
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So since you're there filming anyway, before you roll tape why don't you pop in and ask their permission?
Because unfortunately when you ask permission, people often perceive that there must be some reason you asked and therefore say no - simply because saying no is easier than saying yes.
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Old September 4th, 2009, 04:09 PM   #13
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Because unfortunately when you ask permission, people often perceive that there must be some reason you asked and therefore say no - simply because saying no is easier than saying yes.
I think you're being overly pessimistic, people are usually pretty accomodating when you treat them with courtesy and respect. "Good afternoon, Mr. Innkeeper. We're filming a documentary showcaseing the beauty and charm of Ashville's historic neighborhoods and we were hoping you wouldn't have any objections to the front of your B&B appearing in a shot of the historic buildings along this block ..." Hard to turn down that sort of request. But if they actually do object, then perhaps you should respect their wishes and shoot around them. IMHO, that's the right thing to do.
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