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Old May 1st, 2003, 01:41 AM   #1
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Can you legally show a book cover?

In a movie I'm preparing to shoot, I have a scene where a character is supposed to have a large stack of books in front of him. Can I use real books, and show the covers, or does this infringe on something? He won't be quoting text from them, or anything like that, and I won't be showing the print from any of them. I ask the question because otherwise I have to make fake book covers in photoshop.
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Old May 1st, 2003, 01:43 AM   #2
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What is your intended use of the movie? Personal? Sale? Broadcast?
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Old May 1st, 2003, 01:45 AM   #3
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Whatever I can do with it. Film festivals mostly. I don't see this making it onto real honest to God TV.

Like the response time too. Nice.
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Old May 1st, 2003, 01:52 AM   #4
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I'm guessing that some of Paul Tauger's remarks, such as false-light defamation, in the "Innocent Bystander" thread may apply here. Maybe he'll be able to chime-in on this.

From what I can gather, it's principally a matter of context. Having a character beat another character bloody with a clearly recognizable Harry Potter book might land you a suit.
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Old May 1st, 2003, 01:59 AM   #5
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No no no. The guy's just supposedly poring through these books to help himself come up with a dirty catchphrase. Oh wait. . .that could be bad too. What if I used really old books. . .like "The Republic"
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Old May 4th, 2003, 10:53 AM   #6
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Josh-

The cover art of a book is intellectual property owned by the book publisher. As such, it is important to clear it with the publisher if the book it going to be recognizable on screen. If it is going to be obscured, whether by framing, focus or whatever, then rights are not a problem.

So, you should probably make those fake book covers, although it might not be that hard to get the rights to show the cover, chances are the publisher might be cool with it.

By "really old books", I assume you mean works in the public domain. These are the best things to use whenever you can. I highly suggest you do that. However, the cover art of recent printings of books in the public domain is still the property of the publisher. My suggestion: use books in the public domain and recreate the covers. After all, its easier to use photoshop than lawyers.

-Eric
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Old May 4th, 2003, 04:38 PM   #7
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I was just going to show the titles on the spines
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