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Taking Care of Business
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Old October 10th, 2002, 08:53 AM   #1
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Using copyrighted clips

As part of a presentation to entice funders, we've put together a short demo tape using some clips from rented movies, in place of the footage we'll be shooting when we actually do the project.

The question is - Is this legal? Since we're not selling it...we're not actually making any money from it directly?

Thanks.
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Old October 10th, 2002, 08:57 AM   #2
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No its not legal. The copyright usually states ANY reproduction, in whole or part.

Wether or not you make any money of this is more a matter of if they will sue you or not :) (ie. if there is any money to be claimed)

/Henrik
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Old October 10th, 2002, 09:44 AM   #3
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Not only that, but the Copyright Statute authorizes statutory damages, which can be as high as $150,000 per infringed work (each clip you copy would be considered a seperate "infringed work" for the purposes of the statute). Even if you don't take in a dime, the copyright owner could obtain a substantial judgment against you.
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Old October 10th, 2002, 12:17 PM   #4
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If I were a potential funder, I would take a dim view of some one ripping off another artist, producer and company. I would be unlikely to want to fund some one who might ripe me off. It also shows a lack of originality and is that the type of project I want to fund? Don't get me wrong. I'm not accusing you of doing this, it's just food for thought.

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Old October 10th, 2002, 12:27 PM   #5
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I was involved with a film that had a 'significant' number of sound bites and blatant use of some original 'Star Wars' material.

I think the director and producer thought it cute to use someone elses work in a different way. They even said they were going to send a copy to G. Lucas. Whatever their reason, the feature length film was burned only to DVD and that was it.

There is a lot at risk. Time, money, and reputation.

I was an actor in the above production and its sad when you can't see the end product for what it was intended.
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Old October 10th, 2002, 04:56 PM   #6
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Just to clarify a bit: we're not trying to pass these shots off as our own. We're telling the funders that these shots are from popular movies (they're very obvious, recognizable scenes, in fact). We're using them more as "place holders" for similar shots that we'll create in the final project.
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Old October 10th, 2002, 05:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Just to clarify a bit: we're not trying to pass these shots off as our own. We're telling the funders that these shots are from popular movies (they're very obvious, recognizable scenes, in fact). We're using them more as "place holders" for similar shots that we'll create in the final project.
Okay. Disclaimer first: You are not my client, and I am not your lawyer. No attorney/client relationship is intended or results by my posting in this thread. I don't offer legal advice to non-clients, nor do I offer legal advice to anyone over the internet. Consult your own attorney if you have any questions regarding potential liability for contemplated actions.

With that said:

It doesn't matter one iota. You're violating several rights reserved to the copyright owners, specifically:

1. The right to make copies.
2. The right to prepare derivative works.
3. The right to public performance.

That's three separate and actionable violations for copyright infringement, at $150,000 (possible maximum statutory liability) for each infringement.

There are other legal problems with what you propose to do as well. Most states have statutes that preclude commerical appropriation of likeness. You may even run into trademark infringement problems.

Rather than seek advice on a website, I'd recommend that you run, don't walk, to your nearest competent IP attorney and discuss what you propose to do, and how best to accomplish it. There are clip clearance services that might be able to obtain the rights for you at fairly nominal costs, depending on what, exactly, you're trying to do. If you don't know an attorney, call your local bar association and ask for a referral. Most lawyers will provide a free consultation for something like this.

It's a very, very bad idea to try to get legal advice from anonymous strangers over the internet. As it happens, though, people who responded to this thread got it right.

Listen to them.

Okay?

Paul N. Tauger, Esq.
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Old October 10th, 2002, 05:26 PM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by fargogogo : Just to clarify a bit: we're not trying to pass these shots off as our own. We're telling the funders that these shots are from popular movies (they're very obvious, recognizable scenes, in fact). We're using them more as "place holders" for similar shots that we'll create in the final project. -->>>

As others have stated, it is STILL illegal. If you are trying to shop the movie/project to investors, your best bet is to create a trailer with footage that you have already shot. This would save you the hassel of potential legal troubles.

I would not personally take the chance with "place holder" shots.
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Old October 10th, 2002, 05:28 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Paul Tauger : Okay. Disclaimer first: You are not my client, and I am not your lawyer. No attorney/client relationship is intended or results by my posting in this thread. I don't offer legal advice to non-clients, nor do I offer legal advice to anyone over the internet. Consult your own attorney if you have any questions regarding potential liability for contemplated actions.

It's a very, very bad idea to try to get legal advice from anonymous strangers over the internet. As it happens, though, people who responded to this thread got it right.

Listen to them.

Okay?

Paul N. Tauger, Esq. -->>>

Great advice...your post hit at the same time as mine. Very well stated. Thank you for taking the time to post this response.
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Old October 10th, 2002, 06:25 PM   #10
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Why oh why would you"expose " yourself, to loose everything you own?

Why would you expose your potential funders to work which is unique and create in their minds, an example of work to constantly measure your work against?

If You say I can do this, you better be able to, and therefor why don't you?


As in anything in life you have only one thing that's truly yours... it's you good name.. I think your blowing it!


Bruce
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Old October 10th, 2002, 07:14 PM   #11
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Well it looks like you're gotten the concensus of thought on this subject. But just thought I'd add one more letter to the pile.

Speaking as someone who -has- invested in a feature film project and has sat through several concept presentations I would have been aghast if the producers showed clips from someone else's work as "filler". Not only would they not have gotten a dime of my money (or any of my fellow prospective participants' money) but they would have walked away with such a tarnished reputation that it would surely have sent them out of the business.

Use (your own) still photos, develop a good storyboard, use -anything- except someone else's work! The most persuasive aguments for prospective financial participants generally have little to do with the actual story anyway. Any intelligent investor wants to know how much you're looking for, who else is already signed-up, what are your projected investment returns, what's the business basis for your projected returns and when will I get my money back.
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Old October 11th, 2002, 09:10 PM   #12
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Megadittos to all the above, now for just a thought here...I don't know what kind of clips you are talking about here where you are using pieces of movies to represent footage you plan to shoot, but have you thought about using royalty-free stock footage? It's way cheaper than a lawsuit.

I just got through with a project in which I created a video montage to be projected behind Lee Greenwood while he sang "God Bless the USA" on stage. I didn't have time to go out and shoot all the scenes I wanted, so I used some stock footage intercut with my own footage. Worked like a dream and I didn't have to worry about George Lucas slapping a lis pendens upside my head.

Absent that, stills and storyboards sound like a good solution until you can get around to at least shoot some FPO footage on spec.

I can't imagine what you would be "demonstating" by using the movies of others in a "demo."

Just my $.02 worth here.
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Old October 14th, 2002, 09:15 AM   #13
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Thanks for all your responses. I appreciate it. :)
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