I was recently made aware by a trusted source in the fashion industry that the clothing retailer Forever 21 had placed an artist's artwork on clothing without the artists permission and without compensation to the artist.
So you may be asking yourself, but Ted, you are always talking about how designs are protected by copyright. How could this be?
Well, in addition to its history of labor violations, Forever 21 has been sued more than 50 times for allegedly stealing the work of other designers and passing it off as their own. Despite this long legal history, Forever 21 continues to thrive.
The matter that recently came to my attention is that the artwork of an artist at http://textilenerd.tumblr.com was appropriated by Forever 21 without permission or compensation. See the original link here.
Left: Original Artist's work. Right: Forever 21.
Consequently, being the lawyer I am, I started researching the issue. What I discovered was a company that is no friend to fashion designers.
Left: An Anna Sui dress on the runway. Right: Forever 21's version.
Apparently, Sui was copied by Forever 21 more than 20 times before she took legal action.
Forever 21 has copied everyone, from big brands like Anna Sui and Diane von Furstenberg...
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...
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...