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. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 6 Aug 2009 @ 1:20pm

    It Gets Even Sillier

    Not only can you get in trouble for having an unauthorized logo in your film, the reverse is true as well.

    A few years ago, a major production (I want to say it was "I Am Legend"-- one of the flashback scenes before the plague-- but I could be wrong) got in all sorts of hot water because they shot a scene in Times Square and digitally replaced the ads on all the billboards and flashing signs with ads for other companies that paid to be in the film. The people whose ads got deleted threw a fit.

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