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Old October 10th, 2005, 03:44 PM   #1
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Are Location Releases needed for Est. Shots?

I need a few exterior establishing shots (hospital, jail, and a school) for a film I'm working on. Do I need to get location releases from these places or are shots taken from public property of a building fair game?

thanks in advance.

Matt
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Old October 10th, 2005, 05:43 PM   #2
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The short answer is maybe:

See http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ41.pdf

This is a link to a U.S. copyright office PDF on the subject of applying for copyright protection for a building.
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Old October 10th, 2005, 06:14 PM   #3
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Thanks Peter, that's interesting. The Copyright Law apparently doesn't cover anthing built before 1990. All of the buildings I'm interested in are pre-1990 for sure, so it appears that part is okay. I guess what I'm wondering is if I use the front of a hospital or school and exclude the names, can the hospital rightfully and legally object?
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Old October 11th, 2005, 01:40 AM   #4
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Dear Matthew,

You didn't mention whether this was for a "profit" or "news" production.

The locations you mention are all "public" venues but that is pretty much irrelevant if you are making a commercial tape. You will still have to obtain a permit if you plan on selling your video.

Good Luck,

Stephanie
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Old October 11th, 2005, 11:23 AM   #5
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Thanks Stephanie. The project is a fictional film which we hope to distribute in some way. The subject is the Good News, but I know that doesn't count as documentary news.
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Old October 14th, 2005, 01:22 PM   #6
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Manhatten

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephanie Wilson
Dear Matthew,

You didn't mention whether this was for a "profit" or "news" production.

The locations you mention are all "public" venues but that is pretty much irrelevant if you are making a commercial tape. You will still have to obtain a permit if you plan on selling your video.

Good Luck,

Stephanie
So your saying that any commercial film that shows the Manhattan skyline obtained a release from the owners of every building? I don't think so.

So my question is, is there a place on-line where I can get a clue about the legalities surrounding shooting public space. Can I show buildings visible from public property without permission? Can I show people in public such as walking down the street without permission? (Think of concert films that show the audience. They all can't be getting a release from everybody.)

Rob:-]
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Old October 15th, 2005, 01:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Shaver
So your saying that any commercial film that shows the Manhattan skyline obtained a release from the owners of every building? I don't think so.
Rob:-]
Your right, Robert. I don't think so either and I didn't say that. I said a "permit" which is a totally different animal than a "release".

As to your specifics; there is a terrific lawyer on board here who has answered similar questions. I would suggest you do a specific search for permits or releases in this forum.

Stephanie
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Old October 15th, 2005, 12:28 PM   #8
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sky line = no permission needed .. zooming into one of those buildings to establish that a scene takes place there or something has happen there = permission from that one building ... it all depends on how you use the shot ... if several buildings are in the background of your scene = no permission .. if you suggest by showing one building or shoot upper exteriors = like sienfeld show that character lives/works/visiting that building then you need permission .. you shoot exterior of only my house = you need permission ... however if you just drive down my street ( camera in car on actor) and drive by my house = no permission needed ... all on how you use it ..
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Old October 15th, 2005, 01:20 PM   #9
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Thanks Don, that makes it pretty clear. Would you happen to know of another "official" resource that I can point someone to that explains what you just said?

Matt
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Old October 16th, 2005, 11:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Wilson
Thanks Don, that makes it pretty clear. Would you happen to know of another "official" resource that I can point someone to that explains what you just said?

Matt
May I suggest that you acknowledge this female's previous post which clarified your confusion over a "release" versus a "permit"? Isn't this the "core" answer which determines the answers to all of your subsequent questions?

I don't mean to "imply" any sexism, but I am definately feeling that vibe.

Chris.... Where's Lucinda and all the other women? Haven't seen nearly as many posts from the female gender lately. Is your site taking a turn toward testosterone only? What can you do to get the women back on board?

Thank you,

Stephanie
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Old October 16th, 2005, 11:59 PM   #11
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Hiya Stephanie,

Maybe I’m a little dull-witted (okay, maybe I’m a LOT dull-witted :) but in reading these posts I didn’t happen to notice a vibe. These are good guys here.

If you’ll notice the join date under my name you’ll see that I’ve been hanging around here—and posting—for a long time. In all those years I’ve felt maybe once or twice that someone consistently didn’t care for what I had to say (and maybe it had nothing to do with the fact that I'm a gal). I simply leave those particular members alone. Everyone else has always treated me very well; gender differences just aren’t an issue.

All in all, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a group of folks nicer than the ones in this “neighborhood.” They’re a great bunch of guys!
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Old October 20th, 2005, 10:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephanie Wilson
May I suggest that you acknowledge this female's previous post which clarified your confusion over a "release" versus a "permit"? Isn't this the "core" answer which determines the answers to all of your subsequent questions?

I don't mean to "imply" any sexism, but I am definately feeling that vibe.
Hi Stephanie,
I'm sorry you were feeling that way. It certainly was never intended. My original question really wasn't about permits, it was about releases and I don't think I was confusing them. I think you and Robert sort of got on the wrong track from my original question, and Don happened to reply before I read them all, that's why I hadn't replied directly to you. Hope you understand.

With respect to the question(s) at hand, I understand that one needs a permit to shoot in the County of L.A., and your post does bring up another issue that I have never seen fully resolved: Does a person need to show that they had a permit in order to get any commercial release on a project? Is that something that a distributor requires? Your statement indicates yes. Could you point me to a source for that?

My original question was in regards to showing a specific building, as in using it for an establishment shot. Would I need a release from the owners of the building (architechural trademarks etc.. don't apply)? Don seemed to answer that pretty clearly; however, I was hoping someone could point me to an established source that I could show others (no offense Don, I think you're right, I just need to back it up).

Hope that helps. I appreciate all the feedback and info I get here. This is really a great place and I'm always learning something.


Matt
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Old October 20th, 2005, 11:30 AM   #13
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I am going to put my oar in again without, I hope, sticking my neck out.

The bottom line with most copyright issues is that there is no general statement that works for any specific case. There are rarely what the lawyers call "bright-line" standards for deciding what you can and cannot take photos or videos of. All cases are different.

The best thing to do is to go directly to the owner of the building, store, or whatever, and just ask what they would be willing to let you do. Don't be shy. Don't be confrontational. Don't go loaded for bear with the copyright law in hand. Get them to sign a letter of agreement that expresses your mutual understanding. In my experience, much of the time, people want to be helpful and will be flattered if you want to use their location. Making people feel flattered in just the right way is part of the art of being an effective producer. Maybe you have to offer a nominal payment and/or a credit. If the owner does not want to be involved or demands a lot of money find another location. Getting into a confrontation rarely helps a project and is just going to end up costing all involved.

Is all this time-consuming and annoying? Of course it is. That's why the location piece is someone's job on most films, but it's standard practice and it's what you have to do.
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Old October 23rd, 2005, 12:11 PM   #14
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Hi Peter,
I think that's good advice and I plan on doing that. It's just "all this time-consuming and annoying" stuff that is the problem since I don't have much time. So I still would really love to find the definitive source for the "rules" so I know exactly how to plan my shots. I guess I'm just going to have to contact an entertainment lawyer.
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