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
    PRMan, 6 Aug 2009 @ 9:47am

    It's not like they can't show stuff...

    They "clear" everything so that they can charge for the few remaining "appearances". There are TV shows such as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which blur everything. They make tons of money showing the products of the contributors of the materials.

    Many other shows (such as Dog the Bounty Hunter) have no qualms about tooling around Hawaii showing everything and meeting in a McDonald's parking lot (at the runner's request).

    They don't charge companies for placements and they don't care if they show everything on their show. They do blur license plates and faces of people who don't want to be on the show, but that's it. I've never seen a trademarked logo blurred.

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