What A Job: Making Sure No Brands Appear In A Movie

from the holy-waste-of-resources dept

Rob Hyndman alerts us to a column from an entertainment industry lawyer, explaining his job in "errors and omissions clearance procedures." Basically, the job is watching movies to make sure nothing gets on the screen that doesn't have permission:
Every single character's name in the script must be checked to ensure there isn't someone out there with that exact name who may think they are being portrayed without their permission. All the proposed signage for stores, institutions and other locations must be researched to ensure the names and logos are not subject to copyright or trademark restrictions. If the characters and locations are real, permission must be granted and consents signed. Only certain phone and license plate numbers may be used.

Once the script is written and production begins, all props on set must be checked to ensure no copyright or trademark infringement exists. Fictional cereal being eaten in the fictional restaurant by the fictional family must be cleared before the box can be put on the table.

A rough version of the finished production is then reviewed to ensure nothing was missed and no golden arches appear in the background of the outdoor shot at an intersection in a busy downtown location.
What a stupendous waste of time, money and resources. But it shows what a ridiculous society we've created, where intellectual property law means that you can't have a McDonald's appear anywhere in the background in a movie. I'm sure that's exactly what our founding fathers were concerned about when they put in place the constitutional clause about "promoting the progress."

Filed Under: entertainment law, intellectual property, jobs


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  1. identicon
    hank mitchell, 6 Aug 2009 @ 10:21am

    none of this is technically necessary

    none of this is technically necessary - if the camera sweeps by a 7-11 there is no need to get permission, even if your whole movie was centered around a specific product, no one technically has to get permission, and most trademark holders do not pay attention/get upset if their TM s are used, in fact most are ecstatic. we did a 15 short, available on google video that called for an O'henry candy bar in the script. we called the manufacturer and within 8 hours they delivered 10 cases to our set for free, no questions asked. the movie is not exactly kid or family friendly and kind of mocks the ohenry trademark, but they did not care. if you search google video for document 4486576289803921365 and scroll to 5 minutes in, you will see the scene

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