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


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Old August 18th, 2005, 02:31 PM   #16
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Paul,

Funny, I asked my wife (IP Attorney) those same questions this morning, after reading the thread... and I could of sworn she answered VERBATIM with the same comments.
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Old August 18th, 2005, 02:34 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez
Paul,

Funny, I asked my wife (IP Attorney) those same questions this morning, after reading the thread... and I could of sworn she answered VERBATIM with the same comments.
Great minds think alike? ;)
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Old August 18th, 2005, 06:15 PM   #18
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Thank you Paul. You're getting into some pretty heavy stuff there. I will read it over again, and hopefully it will sink in.

Richard,
How much does it normally cost to consult an IP lawyer? I have sunk all of my funds into my equipment. I'm paying my cast and crew nothing. I would love to speak with an IP attorney, but only if I can afford it. Otherwise, I'll just blur out the signs with a shallow DoF or just plain take them down.

Thanks again all!!!
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Old August 18th, 2005, 06:33 PM   #19
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Adam,

Paul's advice is the best 'general' information you're going to get. If there are trademarks around, avoid em, change em, minimize em, and never defame em are all key points. So essentially, you just heard from an IP attorney when Paul posted. (Which is always good sound advice, and worth plenty)

You can get legal advice for low/no cost from "Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts" programs in some cities. Houston has one. Here in the Bay Area, there is FilmArts and BAVC that can assist you in answering questions.

The point is to get advice BEFORE you shoot. You don't want to shoot, and THEN show it to an attorney who says, "Oh yeah, that'll put your butt in a sling..." only they say it in fancy words. Well, not really... my wife would say "That'll keep you awake at night..." but you get the idea.
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Old August 18th, 2005, 07:04 PM   #20
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Awesome. Thanks a ton!

This film that I'm doing is just a short film, probably about 5 minutes long. I'm not going to be seeking distribution, but will most likely be submitting it to short film contests.

Good news though. I found a guy who composes music. I think he's going to score my films now!
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Old August 19th, 2005, 06:10 AM   #21
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What about the ambient music? Surely a bar will have recognizable songs playing in the background.
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Old August 19th, 2005, 06:18 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Rench
However, what happens when someone films a Chevy Nova ...The Car emblems can be seen in plain sight.
Adam, you'll have to be very careful with the Chevy Nova because just filming the car's name will cast it in a bad light if any in your audience are spanish speaking. When the Nova came out, Chevrolet couldn't figure out why the bestselling car in their lineup wasn't selling at all in Mexico until someone told them 'no va' in spanish means 'won't go'. Not so great name for a car, some might say self-inflicting 'bad light'.
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Old August 19th, 2005, 07:55 AM   #23
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I'm guessing if Adam has the permission to shoot in a bar, he has enough controll to turn off the music...?
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Old August 19th, 2005, 08:12 AM   #24
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I'm asking for myself! I will also be shooting in a bar/restaurant, and I am not sure what control I have over the music. Let's forget about continuity issues for a moment; is it legal? What about a car driving past with the radio on?
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Old August 19th, 2005, 08:58 AM   #25
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Most bars use Jukeboxes. Just ask the owner to please keep it turned off for the duration of the filming. That's all there is to it.

Plus, if you are going to add music say from a local band that wants their music put in the movie, just have the some (not all) bob their heads occasionally to the beat of the music. Or you can even play the song in the background for ambient sound and fix it in post.
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Old August 19th, 2005, 09:30 AM   #26
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Man, it seems like this debate comes up every six months or so and never feels resolved by the time it runs out of steam. By now, a couple of things seem pretty clear -- It's best to play it safe and avoid shooting logos, but corporations don't care. At least none of them appear to have ever sued an independent filmmaker over the use of their products or logos in a film. Still waiting for an example to the contrary.

But that doesn't mean you can just go around infringing people's trademarks. If your project is ever to see commercial release, supposedly there's a good chance you're going to be required to get E/O insurance. That basically protects the distributer in the event that you failed to get all your clearances. The lawyer at the insurance company is the one who will burn you. I would think this is the reason studio films and TV shows seem to be so obsessed with not showing products unless they're paid to do so.

So to me, unless you're really planning to try and get something distributed commercially, I don't see any reason to overly stress about this. Try not to have logos in your shot, but with DV's enormous depth of field this can be tough. Whatever you do, don't portray somebody's product in a bad light. You definitely don't want to show somebody getting poisoned by a can of Coke.
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Old August 19th, 2005, 09:58 AM   #27
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Marco make a good point. Risk increases with exposure. If you count on your film never seeing the light of day, don't worry about a thing. If you count on your film getting good festival distribution, possibly making it into DVD release, or becoming your 'calling card'... watch your back.
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Old August 19th, 2005, 09:58 AM   #28
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I will for sure keep all beer that is being drunk in clear glasses.
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Old August 19th, 2005, 10:00 AM   #29
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Do many 5 to 15 minute short films make it to distribution?
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Old August 19th, 2005, 10:30 AM   #30
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"Distribution" is a funny word. There's a company looking to buy two-minute movies to play on cell phones... do you consider that "Distribution"? Sure. Will they buy your film if it's got copywritten music, or defamed trademarks, or broadly visible logo's? I doubt it.

Marco's comment about never hearing about this problem, is a bit of a straw man. It's easy enough to find examples where the big companies have sued successful films... (Debbie Does Dallas is the most often cited example)

http://www.patentfla.com/articles/trademark_parody.htm
http://www.chillingeffects.org/trade...?NoticeID=1670
http://www.therightscompany.com/infcases.htm

But you rarely see small guys hauled into court. Basically that's because there are NO records of cease and desist letters. If you are a big corporation, and see an example of your trademark being used in a small film, for instance on a web site... You first send a cease and desist letter. If the webcaster (in this case, the 'distributor') is smart. They take it down. Case closed, on to the next one.

So there is an arguement that might be made by the intemperate - "I'll do it untill they ask me to stop...Or I get caught" Frankly, I wouldn't advocate that course of action. A cease and desist letter and your compliance in no way waives their right to sue.

The above link to 'the rights company' has some examples, includint the 'small guys' who used Laurel and Hardy music, and the people who were distributing videos of the STAGE production of Pygmallion. Also, I can state with absolute certainty, that schools and churches have received C&D letters from rights management houses for performing church pageants without paying for the rights to the music or plays. They had to pay restitution, WITHOUT going to trial. So yeah, little guys get hit, and have to pay WITHOUT going to trial in a law suit that gets major publicity.
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