Copyright Getting In The Way Of Historical Realism On Mad Men [Updated]

from the and-this-helps-who-now? dept

A reader going by the name Known Coward points us to a short NY Post piece on how NB news anchor has joined the crowd of folks who watch the show Mad Men, but get upset about historical inaccuracies in the show, which is supposed to take place in 1964. I'm not quite sure how interesting a story that really is, but there was one part of it that might be interesting to folks around here. One of the inaccuracies that upset Williams was the fact that the character of Don Draper was seen watching an NFL football game on a Saturday night. Indeed, the NY Post notes that prime-time NFL football didn't begin until 1970. Where it gets interesting is the reason given by the producers of the show:
Turns out the producers originally wanted to show Don viewing a hockey game between the New York Rangers and the Toronto Maple Leafs, but couldn't get rights, according to a report yesterday in the Los Angeles Times.

Instead, producers substituted audio of a football game, thinking it would blend into the background.
And, of course, this raises the question of what harm is done to the NHL if the show had actually used the more accurate hockey footage, rather than the football broadcast? How does this, in any way, fit into the realm of "promoting the progress"?

Update: In response to this article, the NHL is calling an offside penalty, saying that it received no such request to use the footage of the Rangers/Leafs game. So... perhaps this isn't a copyright issue at all, but Mad Men producers trying to hide a mistake in historical reality?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 3:02pm

    I understand the trademark issues when manufacturers don't want writers using their brand names as product names, like Kleenex instead of tissue. There's a legitimate issue with genericized trademarks (as far as trademark law is concerned, at least).

    But how would using NHL content in this context be harmful? You'd think it would be beneficial even. It's like Andy Warhol bringing attention to Campbell's soup. It's like a fan movie for a particular franchise making people want to see a professional movie.

    Apparently everyone is supposed to pretend that brand name products don't exist in the real world. That could make for an interesting science fiction movie, though. We're also apparently supposed to learn while not copying or imitating or referencing other works. We're supposed to be creative in a vacuum.

     

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  2.  
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    Pickle Monger (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 3:09pm

    The harm

    "What harm"? How 'bout nobody should be watching the Leafs? Go Habs! ;-)

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 3:14pm

    I hope it get more ridiculous and expensive for them to produce anything, maybe then people start to realize how a screw up this whole thing is.

    And of course we will be here to notice and comment on those things.

     

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  4.  
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    PRMan, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 3:18pm

    Hunh?

    As an avid fan of the NHL, I can tell you that their biggest problem right now is irrelevance. They should be getting anyone and everyone to show hockey clips on every major TV show.

    Right now, the average TV viewer never thinks about hockey. That could have changed here, but it hasn't.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 3:23pm

    Why does there appear to be an underlying assumption here that a request was made and the request was denied?

    "[C]ouldn't get rights" is not exactly a model of clarity.

     

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  6.  
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    NAMELESS.ONE, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 3:24pm

    no habs no leafs

    STADIUM in Hamilton first

     

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  7.  
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    Zacqary Adam Green (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 3:26pm

    This kind of thing would probably fall under fair use.

    But that would require a large media conglomerate to risk having to defend the merits of fair use.

     

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  8.  
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    trrll, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 5:17pm

    Probably a matter of cost

    It's likely not an issue of what harm would have been done to the NHL as the NHL overestimating just how much perfect historical accuracy for a bit of background color was worth the the Mad Men producers. "Couldn't get the rights" probably translates into "the NHL demanded an insane amount of money."

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 5:37pm

    Re:

    There must be more to this story.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 5:38pm

    Re:

    Is it Friday on Techdirt?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    'cause - ya no ..., Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 5:46pm

    Girl's gotta get Pay'd

     

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  12.  
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    Phil, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 5:55pm

    Doesn't the NHL need advertising?

    The NHL has long been in 4th place among American professional sports, behind the NFL, NBA and MLB. If you count college football, then it's in 5th place. The 2010 Stanley Cup received the highest ratings for hockey in US history, yet still by comparison it's US ratings were far surpassed by the World Cup, which was heretofore hardly in the conversation.
    Why isn't the NHL attracted to the idea of placing their product in a show with a historic perspective. Shouldn't they try to give the impression that the NHL is a venerated institution with a long history in the American fabric, and that American guys have always watched hockey on Saturday nights. Why wouldn't an advertiser think about this the same way baseball wants you to associate themselves with apple pie. Baseball wants you to believe they are a hallowed part of the American tradition. Perhaps the producers of this show should have asked the NHL for product placement money instead.
    But then, maybe this kind of thinking is another reason why the NHL trails other sports.

     

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  13.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 6:50pm

    Re:

    "But that would require a large media conglomerate to risk having to defend the merits of fair use."

    Yeah, it's weird that they're more than happy to play offense, but tremble at the thought of playing defense.

    I guess that's because the fixed costs (lawyers) are roughly the same either way, but there's a potential windfall (judgement) that only works one in the offense's favor. If there was a law that said that if the plaintiff loses they have to pay the defendant the amount they were seeking from them, we might see a different environment.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 8:53pm

    Re: eswr

    A message denigrated by yet another scumbag spammer.

     

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  15.  
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    Nick Dynice (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 9:15pm

    The harm is that the other suckers that agreed to pay the NHL for other similar fair uses would start complaining that AMC did not have to pay them. So to keep that from happening, NHL is put in the position of a troll.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 9:35pm

    Re: Re:

    "Is it Friday on Techdirt?"

    Haha. Have you seen this-- It talks about how to use Wordpress, and become a master blogger, with topics that work on Fridays.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS-Oq2YbiNE

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Joe Ice, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 6:36am

    The NHL wants it that way

    The way I see it, if the NHL wants to maintain its current level of popularity, then more power to them if they want to make sure little and harmless bits like this stay out of the limelight.

    -The National Hockey League: More popular than Major League Soccer (So Far)!

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 7:17am

    What happened to fair usage? Of course they could have picked another game from 1964 if it really was such a big deal.

     

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  19.  
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    AvalancheDougie, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Doesn't the NHL need advertising?

    You didn't count college football as professional? After Reggie Bush? Tsk, tsk...

     

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  20.  
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    Comboman (profile), Aug 16th, 2010 @ 7:53am

    trading one historical inaccuracy for another

    I don't believe NHL hockey was televised in NYC in 1964. I know for sure it was not televised nationally in the US until the 1970s. And NYC is to far from Canada to pick up the CBC.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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