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-   -   Who's the 'Permission Guy'? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/taking-care-business/50471-whos-permission-guy.html)

Scott Moore September 3rd, 2005 09:48 AM

Who's the 'Permission Guy'?
 
I've got a movie where, in one shot, a Lakers poster is seen on the wall of a kids bedroom....in another shot, there's a photo of the kid's dad wearing a Dodgers jersey.

I've been told, via this forum, that these things will definitely need permission -

my question is, in contacting these teams' front offices for permission,
WHO do I ask for?

Jay Gladwell September 3rd, 2005 10:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott Moore
my question is, in contacting these teams' front offices for permission, WHO do I ask for?

The licensing department. But I can tell you, you won't be able to afford it! Unless you are independently wealthy.

Jay

Dylan Couper September 3rd, 2005 12:46 PM

On the other hand, they might very well give you permissions to use it for free. Be prepared to offer at least a description of the scene!

Steve House September 3rd, 2005 02:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott Moore
I've got a movie where, in one shot, a Lakers poster is seen on the wall of a kids bedroom....in another shot, there's a photo of the kid's dad wearing a Dodgers jersey.

I've been told, via this forum, that these things will definitely need permission -

my question is, in contacting these teams' front offices for permission,
WHO do I ask for?

I'd start with public relations or media relations and many companys and organizations have a film and video liason office. And as someone else said, be preprared to show 'em the script - they might be fine having their trademark on the hero's shirt but reject allowing it on the bad guy's.

K. Forman September 3rd, 2005 03:40 PM

I had asked Victonox, the makers of Swiss Army knives, about using their logo in a movie. They wanted a description of the scene, which I provided. They said they were absolutely horrified at the thought of my using their logo, and wanted written proof I would not use it. Ya win some, ya lose some ;)

Bob Costa September 3rd, 2005 06:14 PM

Keith, So this was for the murder weapon in a serial-Zombie flick?

How do you do written proof that you are not going to do something?

Paul Tauger September 3rd, 2005 07:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott Moore
I've got a movie where, in one shot, a Lakers poster is seen on the wall of a kids bedroom....in another shot, there's a photo of the kid's dad wearing a Dodgers jersey.

I've been told, via this forum, that these things will definitely need permission -

Whoever told you that told you wrong. You MAY need permission, but you also may not. Your description indicates there are potential problems involving copyright as well as trademark. Check with an IP lawyer in your area.

K. Forman September 3rd, 2005 07:07 PM

Bob- You are close, it was a spoof of Scream and other horror/slasher flicks. The weapon was something of a cross between a pocket knife, and something Rambo would have been proud to own. And they frowned upon it... tsk, tsk.

Stephanie Wilson September 4th, 2005 02:15 AM

Hi there,

Please tell us where you are planning on showing your film. Sundance?, the local art house?, the YMCA?, your nephew's birthday party? or a movie theater?

Major venue? You should follow the previous advice. Minor venue..... "Better to ask for forgiveness than for permission."

I know I will catch hell for this.....

Steph

Dylan Couper September 4th, 2005 03:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Keith Forman
They said they were absolutely horrified at the thought of my using their logo, and wanted written proof I would not use it. Ya win some, ya lose some ;)

Tell me you sent them a photocopy of your ass as written proof!

Steve House September 5th, 2005 05:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stephanie Wilson
Hi there,

Please tell us where you are planning on showing your film. Sundance?, the local art house?, the YMCA?, your nephew's birthday party? or a movie theater?

Major venue? You should follow the previous advice. Minor venue..... "Better to ask for forgiveness than for permission."

I know I will catch hell for this.....

Steph

Not giving you hell but what if the only acceptable apology to earn that forgiveness comes in the form of a 6 or 7 -figure cheque....

Paul Tauger September 5th, 2005 10:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stephanie Wilson
You should follow the previous advice. Minor venue..... "Better to ask for forgiveness than for permission."

I don't know anyone who suggested this, nor is this good advice at all. Copyright and trademark infringement are "strict liability," meaning you could be held liable for damages regardless of your intent. "Better to ask a lawyer and feel confident there will be nothing to forgive."

Scott Moore September 6th, 2005 02:39 AM

Paul, how about a dry run...let me describe the scenes to you:
THE BANNER -
'hard cut to a child's bedroom at night...the back wall is in focus, with a Lakers
banner hung on the wall...dad enters frame, walks in front of Lakers banner, camera pans down to child - total screen time for Lakers banner: 2.5 seconds'
THE JERSEY - 'fade in on moving photo montage....old photo of dad & son...dad is wearing a replica dodgers jersey with shorts....total screen time for Dodgers jersey...less than 2 seconds.'
GENRE - G-rated family drama.

Jay Gladwell September 6th, 2005 06:38 AM

From the NBA's site:

"The basketball-related content and materials... (including, but not limited to, video, audio, photos, text, images, statistics, updated scores, logos and other intellectual property related to the NBA and its member teams)... No Basketball Content... may be reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted, reproduced, distributed, copied, publicly displayed or otherwise used except as provided in these Terms of Use without the written permission of NBAMV."

The MLB is more succinct: "The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc."

That pretty well says it. And "written permission" or "permission" means you've been granted a license to use it.

Jay

Paul Tauger September 6th, 2005 12:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jay Gladwell
From the NBA's site:

"The basketball-related content and materials... (including, but not limited to, video, audio, photos, text, images, statistics, updated scores, logos and other intellectual property related to the NBA and its member teams)... No Basketball Content... may be reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted, reproduced, distributed, copied, publicly displayed or otherwise used except as provided in these Terms of Use without the written permission of NBAMV."

The MLB is more succinct: "The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc."

That pretty well says it. And "written permission" or "permission" means you've been granted a license to use it.

Jay

These reservations-of-rights statements are nice, but don't necessarily have legal effect. I can use the mark, "Major League Baseball" without permission provided that there is no likelihood of consumer confusion or dilution -- in fact, I just did. There is no such thing as ownership of words -- there are only the rights protected by law, i.e. copyright, trademark, patent and trade secret.

Paul Tauger September 6th, 2005 12:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott Moore
Paul, how about a dry run...let me describe the scenes to you:
THE BANNER -
'hard cut to a child's bedroom at night...the back wall is in focus, with a Lakers
banner hung on the wall...dad enters frame, walks in front of Lakers banner, camera pans down to child - total screen time for Lakers banner: 2.5 seconds'
THE JERSEY - 'fade in on moving photo montage....old photo of dad & son...dad is wearing a replica dodgers jersey with shorts....total screen time for Dodgers jersey...less than 2 seconds.'
GENRE - G-rated family drama.

Well, first, I can't provide legal advice here and, in any event, this is still not enough information to provide an opinion, even if I was inclined to do so.

Trademark infringement is determined by an evaluation of 8 factors (called the "Polaroid Factors" after a case by the same name). These are the relevant factors:

1. Similarity of the marks
2. Proximity of the goods or services
3. Strength of the mark
4. Similarity of marketing channels
5. Degree of care and sophistication of purchasers
6. Defendant's intent in adopting the mark
7. Evidence of actual confusion
8. Likelihood of expansion of product lines

Without knowing the answers to all of these with respect to your film, I couldn't predict whether a specific use would infringe or not.

Jay Gladwell September 6th, 2005 01:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul Tauger
These reservations-of-rights statements are nice, but don't necessarily have legal effect. I can use the mark, "Major League Baseball" without permission provided that there is no likelihood of consumer confusion or dilution -- in fact, I just did. There is no such thing as ownership of words -- there are only the rights protected by law, i.e. copyright, trademark, patent and trade secret.

Paul, it's referring to the logo(s) of the MLB and the teams which comprise it.

Scott, just get on the phone and ask the respective organizations. They'll answer your question.

Jay

Paul Tauger September 6th, 2005 05:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jay Gladwell
Paul, it's referring to the logo(s) of the MLB and the teams which comprise it.

Doesn't matter -- it's just another species of trademark, unless there's enough expressive content to contain copyright protection as well.

I can use anyone's trademark, including their logo, without their permission, as long as I don't dilute it or infringe it by causing a likelihood of consumer confusion as to source, sponsorship or affiliation. I could use someone's copyright-protected expression without permission as long my use comes within fair use doctrine, or is otherwise authorized by statute (or doesn't infringe one of the protected rights). Interestingly enough, merely possessing an unauthorized copy of protected expression, i.e. an infringing copy, is not illegal. I own unauthorized copies of protected expression, and there's nothing anyone can do about it, as long as I don't use them in such a way as to violate a protected right.

The point is, just because there's an onerous reservation of rights statement doesn't mean that it's a correct statement of law or enforceable in any way.

Scott Moore September 6th, 2005 07:48 PM

Paul - you're killing me, man...I keep teetering both ways: 'we're in violation...
no wait, maybe we're not in violation...' And I had a rough time today, trying to
locate either an IP or an entertainment attorney anywhere near here (I live in
Kentucky)....so this evening I'm a little perplexed as to which way to pursue this.....but somehow I've got to get it settled -

Paul Tauger September 6th, 2005 08:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott Moore
Paul - you're killing me, man...I keep teetering both ways: 'we're in violation...
no wait, maybe we're not in violation...' And I had a rough time today, trying to
locate either an IP or an entertainment attorney anywhere near here (I live in
Kentucky)....so this evening I'm a little perplexed as to which way to pursue this.....but somehow I've got to get it settled -

Scott, I wish I could help you but, unfortunately, neither my firm nor our malpractice carrier permits me to advise non-clients. Remember one thing, though: you won't get sued for infringement if you don't use the trademarks.

Jay Gladwell September 7th, 2005 06:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul Tauger
I could use someone's copyright-protected expression without permission as long my use comes within fair use doctrine,...

We're not talking about "fair use" here, we're talking about someone who wants to use a trademark in a dramatic piece that he hopes to distribute publicly and, hopefully, make money from it.

The truth is, when (if) it he enters the film into festivals or distribution, he will be required to provide proof that he has clearance/licenses for any and all items that might even come close to copyright/trademark infringement. Without such proof of clearance/licenses, the project dies on the vine.

Here's an interesting link regarding clearance rights issues and how they affect filmmakers: http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/rock/index.htm.

Jay

James Connors September 7th, 2005 07:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Keith Forman
I had asked Victonox, the makers of Swiss Army knives, about using their logo in a movie. They wanted a description of the scene, which I provided. They said they were absolutely horrified at the thought of my using their logo, and wanted written proof I would not use it. Ya win some, ya lose some ;)

Heh surely they can want all they "want", there's absolutely nothing they can do legally to demand this from you.. sounds like another typical lawyer trick in order to get you to do something you don't have to, but will screw you totally if you make an error. ie imagine another film you do has the logo on display at some point, and they have a vague document saying you won't use their logo....

Paul Tauger September 7th, 2005 09:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jay Gladwell
We're not talking about "fair use" here, we're talking about someone who wants to use a trademark in a dramatic piece that he hopes to distribute publicly and, hopefully, make money from it.

Fair use is a copyright doctrine, and can apply even if the use is commercial.

As I've said a number of times, trademarks can be used in films as long as they don't result in a likelihood of consumer confusion as to source, sponsorship or affiliation, or cause dilution or tarnishment.

Without actually seeing the film in question, knowing how it's going to be exhibited, and knowing the trademarks, I can't say whether a specific use will result in either copyright or trademark infringement, or not.

K. Forman September 7th, 2005 01:39 PM

"Heh surely they can want all they "want", there's absolutely nothing they can do legally to demand this from you.. "

I told them to buy the DVD when it came out. It hasn't happened yet, due to numerous issues, but some day...

Scott Moore September 7th, 2005 02:11 PM

[QUOTE=Paul Tauger] Remember one thing, though: you won't get sued for infringement if you don't use the trademarks.

Good point, Counselor.

Stephanie Wilson September 7th, 2005 10:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul Tauger
Doesn't matter -- it's just another species of trademark, unless there's enough expressive content to contain copyright protection as well.

I can use anyone's trademark, including their logo, without their permission, as long as I don't dilute it or infringe it by causing a likelihood of consumer confusion as to source, sponsorship or affiliation. I could use someone's copyright-protected expression without permission as long my use comes within fair use doctrine, or is otherwise authorized by statute (or doesn't infringe one of the protected rights). Interestingly enough, merely possessing an unauthorized copy of protected expression, i.e. an infringing copy, is not illegal. I own unauthorized copies of protected expression, and there's nothing anyone can do about it, as long as I don't use them in such a way as to violate a protected right.

The point is, just because there's an onerous reservation of rights statement doesn't mean that it's a correct statement of law or enforceable in any way.

Dear Paul,

Considering my 22 years in the business, I THOUGHT I was right... But you qualified my opinion with real law. Thank you for your post.

Sincerely,

Stephanie


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