Copyright law and Public View

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    • #38204

      Where does the copyright issue fall regarding video shot for example on a city street, when business signd (like McDonalds maybe where you see golden arches) are in the shot.

      Can this be sold as royalty free stock by the artist who captured the image? Or does this fall into the gray area of how thw shot is composed, and how prominently the sign is displayed. Or better yet can I shoot a wide exterior of a McDonald’s (from the street) and sell it as my own copyrighted work, and not get sued?

      What about architechtual copyright, can a videographer infringe upon that (i.e. shots of a building).

      Also are public structures like government buildings fair game?

      And how about public structues (ie stadiums with a sports teams logo?

      Who the heck owns what?



    • #168154

      You’ve got a whole bunch of difficult questions there. Rather than blather on about Fair Use in general, I’d like to give you a link to a site that does a pretty good job of explaining the issues you need to consider.

      By the way, Videomaker has also recommended this article by providing the link I listed above.

      Now as far as selling video stock footage of buildings, the issue isn’t so much who owns what but who is profiting from it. Take the wide shot of McDonald’s from the street. McDonald’s trademarks everything they create, building designs, sandwich names, uniform designs and the list goes on. You could very well get away with using video of a McDonald’s as fair use in a non-profit video, but not in any commercial usage. So there’s no way could you sell video you shoot featuring a trademarked item. Take the iconic skyline view of San Francisco with the quaint homes in the foreground. The image is shot from a city park across the street so it is perfectly legal to shoot the video. But the homeowners’ association has trademarked the homes in the foreground, so any use in any commercial project requires a license from the association. Now something similar goes on anytime you record any trademarked item. Technically speaking, there is no grey area concerning trademark reproduction. So even if the McDonald’s was one of a half a dozen signs, they have the legal right to control any use of one of their trademarked items (except for unintentional use in news programming.) So the McDonald’s lawyers could demand payment for using their trademark any time it is recognizable. This is essentially why shows blur out T-shirt logos, it’s easier than dealing with trademark issues.

      On the other hand, shots of government buildings can be used in any way you want. Provided you shot the video legally. The same thing cannot be said of “public buildings” because they are actually private property. Provided you have nothing trademarked in the image and the structure isn’t a main focus, you might not have a problem. But stadiums & the like are filled with trademarked objects, so you’ll have to get a license. Keep in mind that the stadiums are generally not managed by the owners of the trademarks, so getting a location release won’t release you from possible trademark infringements.

      But the main point to remember is still what the “Fair Use in Online Video” emphasizes. Any time money is involved, fair use doesn’t count. You can get away with a lot if you don’t make much money. But it isn’t just the copyrights you have to worry about in the situations you described. It’s trademarks that can get you.

    • #168155

      Cool, that’s much clearer. I was actually interested in selling footage as royalty free stock stuff. So basically blur out anything that even resembles a trademark or logo to be safe. What about learning about the situations that arise like the homeowner’s deal above.

      Do you only know sometimes when you get called out on it?



    • #168156

      you won’t get “called out on it” if you research first.

    • #168157

      How do you research for a wide shot of a city? Do I have to get permission from every property owner in the shot? How do I know what people have trademarked?

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