Depict book titles in video (legal)?

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    • #37667

      A scene in my current narrative short film takes place in a library, with the book title spines visible and legible. Is this fair use if the books are not the subject of the film but part of the background and location?

      Thanks in advance,

      – Rob.

    • #166961

      Since you hopefully didn’t focus on the books themselves and showcase them, technically you could make a case for ‘fair usage’.

      However, in any case of copyright infringement the burden of proof that you didn’t infringe falls directly on you and it’s much harder than you think. The safest thing to do is just throw a background mask over the scenes where the books are and blur them enough to where they aren’t legible. Much easier than trying to prove you didn’t infringe….

    • #166962

      I haven’t researched this recently but at one time it was legally observed that book titles are NOT copyrightable. The cover art, etc. perhaps, and maybe even as far as “trademarking” a custom font used, but not the actual title. This, if it still holds true, should provide for books on shelves in the background of a shot where ONLY the title shows on their spines.

    • #166963

      Thanks for the replies, gents. Earl, my research indicates you’re correct – a title in itself can’t be copyrighted, but a stylized logo or photo representation of that title can be… I’ll likely do the shots to blur the books a little. Composite1, you’re right that that’s probably the simplest path in the long run.

      Keep shooting!

      – Rob.

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