Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › General › Video and Film Discussion › Legal Rights to Sorority
December 1, 2008 at 5:23 AM #42954SmartsistahParticipant
I’m working on a documentary on a sorority and wanted to know if I am a member will it be ok to use the letters, shield etc.? Do I have the right to use them in the packaging and do I have to get written permission from the leadership? Will it be ok if a portion of proceeds is donated to the organization? thanks.
December 1, 2008 at 5:57 PM #179931
You cannot assume. The best route, if you are doing anything more for distribution than keeping it for yourself or showing your copy to a few close friends, is to go to the source and obtain written permisssions/release. While you are a member and certainly “represent” your sorority in public and private life (generally speaking) you are likely NOT a legal agent or representative.
Donation of a portion of the proceeds could grease the wheels of approval. Who is your market, that you believe this production will generate enough funds to warrant offering a “portion of the proceeds?”
December 4, 2008 at 2:14 AM #179932Damian LloydParticipant
You can make a documentary about the sorority, no problem. If you use their trademarks (logo or shield, registered or not), you need permission.
December 4, 2008 at 7:34 AM #179933
Actually MOST serious documentary work, unless you’re into guerrilla style acquisition and trying to do an expose and keep a low profile, requires some degree of clearance and approval, even signed model release forms, if you’re going to do anything with it but practice editing, and show it off to Mama, or your girlfriend.
December 11, 2008 at 5:36 PM #179934SmartsistahParticipant
it’s an international sorority with thousands of members so I should do ok financially. What rights should I as for in the release? Approval as an official film, use of trademarks? Thanks.
December 11, 2008 at 7:23 PM #179935
With whatever relationship you have with restorefilms I would suspect you already have access to information resources regarding rights in documentary production, but…
…you would likely definitely want:
Signed model releases by all participating, or incidental physically identifiable persons. I have seen in many productions, and actually myself, “smudged out” incident background individuals who I failed to get a release from, or were borderline identifiable.
Some kind of release from the sorority (if this is indeed going to be public/commercial broadcast/cablecast, or produced in volume and sold commercially) giving you full rights to use of images, identifiers, trademarks, blah, blah, blah…
The usual set of production rights agreements with all participating or principal parties above and below the line, who might later offer some legal contention regarding your use if you do not have them on the dotted line.
Notes: People can and often do sue anytime anyway over nothing. Not so much that you couldn’t “win” your case, but the expenses involved in getting a clear (sometimes) court decision will ruin your prospects unless you already have the joy of deep pocket financing.
There are numerous ins and outs of documentary production as it relates to public or commercial airing, and/or distribution, etc. that you really might need to consider the advice of a licensed attorney who deals with such rights and limitations. Nothing I say is intended to be legal advice, or to offer same, simply general information of which your use is entirely your decision based on no promises or inferences made by me. Sorry, necessary. See what I mean?
Videomaker magazine and many, MANY other printed and web resources (do a Google search on a variety of related terms) offer some solid information about what you want to do/accomplish. I’d seek out as much of this as possible first, before seeking an attorney’s advice. Also, the scope and/or limitation of experience with folks participating here is likely not to include many in the upper stratosphere of such production work as they perceive they do not have time to participate in these wonderful, informative and often intelligent forums 🙂
Also, my earlier reference to show your mama or girlfriend was a stupid remark that showed my personal ignorance and the fact that I’d totally failed to take into account your unidentifiable profile with question mark as well as your “Smartsistah” designation. Oops, my bad.
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