Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

style="margin-bottom: 0"> 

class="style5" Copyrighting The Known Universe

>Published : 10th June 2005

>Building and skyline copyright cases that have gone through the Federal Courts have been lost. Photographers that have been litigated against by building owners, have lost. Can't copyright the skyline!

>The last case, was that of a commercial photographer that shot a very famous museum. The photog created posters of the museum exterior and sold them for - profit. The museum filed suit, and last I heard, lost.

>Bob Tur


>Bob Tur wrote :

class="Paragraph">>Photographers that have been litigated against by building owners, >have lost. Can't copyright the skyline!

>Who lost, Bob?

>Jeff Kreines


>The buildings copyright situation is fairly simple.

>Individual buildings are covered by copyright, you may not photograph them without the owners permission.

>Groups of buildings. more than 4, are considered to be a general view and are not copyright.

>I had a great opportunity to test this when shooting a time-lapse shot in downtown LA.

>A sequence with a 4mm on S16, pointing upwards in the middle of the group of skyscrapers. The sun came up and through shot with shadows sweeping through.

>5 buildings in shot.

>LA police permission to be on the street.

>Camera high enough, around 8 feet, so that people passing by couldn't get in shot.

>ALL those buildings are full of lawyers, I met most of them that day!

class="style7">"You can't film our building without our permission, and we're not giving it, stop filming now!"

class="style7">"Please look at this video monitor, as you can see the shot is of 5 buildings, now fuck off and re-read your law books"

>I started a lot more politely than that but by the time the 20th twat in a suit came to give me aggro I was less polite.

>This went on non-stop for 5 hours.

>None of them came back.

>Cheers

>Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based
www.cinematography.net


>Geoff Boyle wrote :

class="Paragraph">> "Please look at this video monitor, as you can see the shot is of 5 >buildings, now fuck off and re-read your law books"

>LOL!

>In the cinema verite world, our mantra is :

>"Releases? We don' need no steeenkin' releases!"

>Jeff Kreines


class="style8">>Can't copyright the skyline!

class="style8">> The last case, was that of a commercial photographer that shot a very >famous museum.

>I suspect you mean the Rock and Roll Museum in Cleveland. It was about trademark more than copyright. For a look at just how complex that case was, this link will help :

>Google Search : Rock and Roll museum trademark

http://www.swlearning.com/blaw/cases/rock_and.html

http://advertisinglawyer.wld.com/news-mag-1999-02.htm

>Cliff Hancuff


>Geoff Boyle writes :

class="style8">>Individual buildings are covered by copyright, you may not photograph >them without the owners permission. Groups of buildings. more than 4, >are considered to be a general view and are not copyright.

>What if we shoot five buildings, and crop, matte, or grey-out four of them in post? (I'm not being facetious.)

>What if we PAN across five buildings (or zoom in from them) and end up with a tight shot of one building -- and use the whole shot in the finished product?

>Jeff Kreines writes :

class="style8" >In the cinema verite world, our mantra is :

class="style8" >"Releases? We don' need no steeenkin' releases!"

>That was the mantra in the Good Old Days, but can we still get away with it?

>I suppose if we call ourselves news crews we might. What if we formed an International Verite' Journalists' Association? Members could receive globally valid press passes bearing official seals, the requisite filigree, and official-sounding phrases like "Authorities are requested to extent all courtesies to the bearer."

>Dan Drasin, IVJA
Producer/DP/Certified News Cameraman
Marin County, CA


class="style8">> What if we shoot five buildings, and crop, matte, or grey - out four of >them in post? (I'm not being facetious.)

>Then you're not showing 5 buildings, you're emphasising one and I'm sure the lawyers will have you.

class="style8">>What if we PAN across five buildings (or zoom in from them) and end >up with a tight shot of one building -- and use the whole shot in the >finished product?

>You're showing less than 5 buildings in the one shot, see above reaction.

>Cheers

>Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based
www.cinematography.net


class="style8">> I suppose if we call ourselves news crews we might.

>Wouldn't make the least bit of difference. The main reason news crews can get away with it is that they don't have E&O insurance, so they don't have to satisfy the increasingly ludicrous conditions required by the insurance companies. News organizations set aside a budget for legal fees/settlements instead of insurance, so they're free to shoot to the full extent the law allows. (Which is a whole lot more than what the insurance companies allow!)

>If you or I want to do the same, we're completely free to do that – at least in countries like Canada, the US, the UK etc., an independent documentary maker is no less entitled to "freedom of the press" than any TV news channel. Difference is, how many independents can spend a couple of million bucks in litigation to protect that freedom?

>George Hupka
Director/DP
Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada


>Hi Geoff,

>Would be interested in knowing, Where this more than 4 building rule is written.

>Has anyone heard of any building owner successfully suing for the showing of their building alone.

>Last year was shooting a Brownstone in NYC the building owner called the cops. The cops almost arrested the building owner for interfering with us.

>Mik Cribben-Steadicam operator IA 600
NYC/LA/Miami


>Mik Cribben writes :

class="style8">> Would be interested in knowing, Where this more than 4 building rule >is written.

>I'll try and source it.

>It's something that I came across a while ago, but it's something that is fairly widely known as other people have mentioned it to me.

>Cheers

>Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based


>Geoff,

>FYI, Excellent summary article by Thomas Caldwell in a DV Magazine article entitled "All Clear", November 2004. Doesn't specifically cover the number of buildings question, but alludes to Fair Use as a potential test.

>Michael Vitti
Leader, NYC FCP UG community
http://www.nycfcpug.com