Privacy laws vary from country to country, but in most developed countries you need to gain permission from a person to use their image in a media project of any kind if they are identifiable in the piece. If the person is considered to be a minor (usually those under 18 years of age) in the jurisdiction where youre shooting, you will normally need to have a parent or legal guardian sign consent on their behalf instead.
Legitimate news gathering organizations often have special exemptions from these rules as they are generally considered to be operating "in the public interest," but filmmakers (including documentary-makers) do not enjoy this exemption and must therefore get everyone who is recognizable in the film to sign a release form. Without the release, anyone who appears in your film may be able to sue you for using their image without permission, may prevent you from distributing your film, or may even demand a cut of the profits.
If you are shooting with actors or in a controlled environment, make sure you get releases signed at the outset. Leaving it until later on or after your shoot is a very bad idea - what if you lose contact with the actor or have a falling out? It's better to have the...
The short answer to this issue is, yes, you must obtain permission before using an actors image in film or marketing material. You must get each person who is identifiable in your film to sign a release allowing you to use their image in the film and associated activities (such as marketing materials for the film). This applies equally to narrative films and documentaries. Regardless of how you are planning to use the film or whether you intend to charge people to see it or not, you must be able to prove that you hold all of the underlying rights, including script, music, and the right to use your actors' images.
If you've gone ahead a shot your film without getting your actors to sign releases, you should try and get them signed retrospectively as soon as possible. This is probably not going to be a problem if the actors are your friends, but if your relationship with them deteriorated on set you might find it harder to secure agreement after the event (hence the reason why it's essential to get them signed ahead of time). It's certainly far to risky to use an actor's image without their consent, particularly if you film ends up earning any money.
The upshot is, always always always get your releases signed in advance!
If you are planning on shooting on location, you should always check to see if you need permission before you show up. This is particularly important if you have a crew of more than 2-3 people or you are shooting drama. Generally locations fall into two categories: private and public.
Private locations - in almost all cases you will need permission to shoot on a private location. It is important that you get the location owner (or an authorized representative) to sign a release form giving you permission to use the location. You should also make sure you have the necessary insurance to cover your cast and crew, and you will generally have to indemnify the owner against any claims arising from your use of the location. Using private locations may or may not involve a fee, this really depends on the circumstances and your persuasiveness.
Public locations - in most cases, you can shoot freely in public locations, however you should always check first with your local authority. If you are planning on shooting in a busy area or with a reasonably large crew, you will often need to obtain Police co-operation for things such as crowd and traffic control. Again, depending on the individual situation, you may be able to obtain this at no...
So I am asked this question, often, can I use a song or other copyrighted work in my film if I change ... percent of it?
For a long time a copyright myth has circulated that there is a magic percentage of a copyright work, that if the original work is changed by that amount, it becomes ok to use without permission.
This is completely and utterly false.
There is no rule of thumb or magic number, which separates non-infringing use from infringing use. This interpretation is entirely up the courts, and will depend largely on the nature of the copyright work and how it is used.
In nearly all cases, if you are planning to use copyrighted material in your film, you will either need to get permission from the copyright holder, or substantially change it to the point where it is not recognizable from the original source (which kind of defeats the purpose of using it anyway).
International copyright law does allow for a concept of "fair use", which allows copyrighted material to be used for certain purposes without permission of the copyright-holder. Fair use is a qualitative measure so it again comes down the to the way in which the material is used, how much is used, and what the nature of the copyright material itself is. Generally, fair...
Generally speaking, if you use a product positively in a film for the purpose it was intended (i.e. your character drinks a can of Coke or eats a packet of chips) there should be no problems; you don't have to use generic labeled products. And obviously products, which aren't featured in your film, (e.g. a packet of Kellogg's cornflakes sitting on a shelf in the background) should also not be an issue.
Problems can arise in two main areas. First, if you show a product in a bad light (i.e. your character drinks a can of Coke then says, "Wow. Coke sucks!"), the company that produces it may not be too happy with you. This may constitute what is called âtrade defamation,â similar to a famous 1997-98 case involving comments made by Ophra Winfrey on her show about the US beef industry.
The second area is a little more difficult, and is the best reason why you should involve a trademark attorney in the final decision of using specific products in your film. Although you may not see any specific problems with using a specific product in your film, a manufacturer or trademark owner could, amongst other things, decide that they don't want their product associated with all or part of your film. This could be for a variety of reasons, but...
What's this a silent film a contender for an Academy Award? No Michael Bay-plosions? No CG? No FX? But, rather well written characters and acting that engages the audience so that they care for the characters. What a revolutionary concept.Critics are forecasting Oscar glory for the French silent movie "The Artist," which landed distribution with The Weinstein Company (handlers of last year's Best Pic, "The King's Speech") after faring surprisingly well at Cannes this year. The homage to silent-era Hollywood is directed by Michel Hazanivicius, known in France for his "spy spoof movies," and stars Berenice Bejo and Jean Dujardin, who won Best Actor at Cannes for the role. There's also a few familiar faces: good ol' John Goodman turns up, as does character actor James Cromwell (the farmer from "Babe").While it would be incredible to see a throwback movie, silent, black and white, and starring two unknown leads, take the most mainstream award there is, it's worth noting The Weinstein Company also bought rights to the ugly stepchild at this year's Venice fest, Madonna's "W.E." That said, the combo of art house plus heartwarming could be just strange enough to win over film geeks and grandmas, and maybe the Academy.
Science fiction legend and 77 year old author, Harlan Ellison is attempting to kill a high-profile movie that is scheduled for release next month. The Hugo award-winning writer has filed a lawsuit against New Regency and director Andrew Niccol over the 20th Century Fox-distributed film, In Time, starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy. He is demanding an injunction to prevent the film's October 28 release and the disposal of all copies of the film.
Ellison filed his lawsuit last Wednesday in California federal court with allegations of copyright infringement on the part of the producers of In Time, including Niccol, who is renowned for his sci-fi films including The Truman Show, Gattaca, and S1mOne.
Copyright lawsuits in Hollywood are certainly plentiful, but rarely successful because plaintiffs typically struggle to meet the high burden of showing substantial similarity. Will Ellison's case be any different?
Ellison says the new film is based on his multiple prize-winning 1965 work, "Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktockman" which the complaint calls one of the most famous and widely published science fiction short stories of all time and that the film "copies key plot elements, themes, characters,...
A trademark is "a word, name, symbol, device, or combination of them that indicates the source of goods or services." Consequently, a trademark distinguishes specific products or services of one business to the others within the same field. Movies always involve trademark use, from the movie studioâs logos to the props bearing signage of commercial brands.
Movie Genre Trademarks
The audience readily sees trademarks through names, logos and graphics of the movie studios as shown in the opening credits.
Movie studios may produce an expansive list of films ranging from animation to drama. However, the need for better identification results from the specific genres released by the studio or by itâs sister companies within the same mother studio. For instance, Fox Searchlight, unlike its mother company 20th Century Fox, releases movies from independent producers.
Filmmaking requires using technical equipment like camera, lighting, editing, sound and special effects equipment. So, it is very common to see logos of technical products and resources during the movie's closing credits. For example, the ending part of the scrolling credits typically show: Panavision or Arri (cameras used); Digital Theater Systems...
Whether it is the Mike Tyson facial tattoo in the Hangover 2, or the inclusion of âNo animals were harmedâ credit in the Kingâs Speech, trademark violations can be costly and potentially devastating for a film.
Despite its 12 Oscar nominations, the film âThe Kingâs Speechâ was in the news earlier this year due to a trademark dispute with the American Humane Association. The bone of contention concerns the use of the phrase âNo animals were harmedâ in the credits.
The American Humane Association (AHA), an organization dedicated to the protection of animals, is the registered owner of a trademark, for this phrase. Since 1940, the AHA has been overseeing the use of animals in movies, TV shows and films. To perform its monitoring duties the organization typically demands script details be sent to it in advance, and requires on set access.
However, the AHA was not involved in the film âThe Kingâs Speechâ and could not oversee the featuring of several Corgis. The AHA claims that the phrase âNo animals were harmedâ has been used without the organizationâs consent and, therefore, infringes its trademark rights. It has demanded that the producer of âThe Kingâs Speechâ remove the phrase from the credits.
Once the owner of the copyright has been identified, the next step is to obtain written permission from the copyright holder to use their work. This is often called a âlicense,â âreleaseâ or a ârightâs agreement.â These may require the payment of money and they may not, this depends on a variety of variables. However, it is imperative that written permission be obtained even if you end up not paying any money or you are using a friendâs creative work.
The key elements of a written license are: 1) grant of rights; 2) representations and warranties; 3) price; 4) screen credit and 5) any other provisions, including the right to create other derivative works and option to use a screenplay.
Itâs at this stage that my clients often ask, is a copyright license or assignment always necessary? In short, the answer is yes. Just mentioning the name of a movie or book is ok and also there are those works covered by public domain and the fair use doctrine. Even if you wrote the screenplay, you will need to license or assign it to the production company.
The difference between a license and an assignment is a simple one. With a license, the original owner of the copyright is retaining ownership and is (often) being paid a license fee for the...