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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Hi, I have a question about copryight on products in my

Resolved Question:

Hi,

I have a question about copryight on products in my film.

I am making my first feature length movie, it's a comedy horror. I intend to distribute the movie myself when it's finished, both here and internationally (via itunes, amazon etc)

Where do I stand legally on showing toys and games in my main characters bedroom? I have tried to gain clearnace to show movie posters, but the film studios want LOTS of money for this. That got me thinking about everything else.

Essentially I need some guidance on what I need clearance for, and what I don't. Ideally I want to make sure I don't have to apporach anyone for clearance (as I'm having no luck) or I am not breaking any laws in the way I show the toys.

Specifically I'd like to know if :

a) what problems could arise from showing my main characters bedroom full of cuddly toys, cars, games, books, consoles etc.
b) More in-depth - can I show a row of teddy bears being decaptitated by an intruder? Or will I need to make my own custom bears for this type of scene?
c) Can I show toys in a horrific nature - for example a jack-in-the-box popping up and someone getting scared by this?
d) My main character takes a battlebot toy and 'repurposes' it to attack someone. Would there be problems here?

Basically some guidance would be really helpful.

thanks in advance

Karl
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.

Alex Watts :

Hello my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Alex Watts :

Have you asked them about product placement please?

Customer:

Hi Alex,

Customer:

Well I told the studios their poster would be good advertising but they didn't care. They just wanted $1500. That's almost half my budget for the whole film. Also as I am making a horror movie I doubt it would be considered good product placement for any of the kids toys I use. I bought some toys from teh charity shop and contacted the companies who made them, but no-one has even replied to my requests for permission. I did somewhere that you were ok as long as the item was no trademarked. Is there any truth to this? thanks again

Customer:

sorry about the last line...typos : I did read somewhere else that you were only in trouble if you infringed a trademark, but mass produced toys were ok to show - is there any truth to this, and how would I know?

Alex Watts :

If you are using generic items such as cans of Coke etc - you can't help but use that

Alex Watts :

As you can imagine anything in a regular movie would have to be paid for - clearly it is not

Alex Watts :

If you are using material that is subject to copyright then you may face problems.

Customer:

Also, without sounding too pessimistic, it would be near impossible to contact every company as there may be 100 toys in the bedroom.

Alex Watts :

But generic day to day items they can not really stop you using that

Alex Watts :

I can't imagine on the Sky advert they had to pay Apple when they used an Ipad

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer:

Yes, I know which is why I asked here. I want to know what the difference is between for example showing a design print such as a poster - I can see as a clear infrigrment of copyright, but surely showing toys being used as toys is not?

Alex Watts :

Yes, They are being used for the purpose made.

Alex Watts :

I can't imagine when there is a car ad, they seek permission of all other manufacturers who cars may be in the ad on a road

Customer:

So essentially you are saying I need every single toy copyright cleared, for any kind of use in a film? What if the toy has no trademark?

Alex Watts :

Then you dont need permission

Alex Watts :

But you dont need permission for the toys

Alex Watts :

If you are using their artwork then yes

Alex Watts :

But if you are using toys or crayons etc, you dont need permission

Customer:

ok, so for example can I show a toy/teddy bear on the shelf, and that's... but if I show the toy being ripped apart that would be different? Can I still show this if it's a genreic toy?

Alex Watts :

No, you can show it being ripped apart and yes even if generic

Customer:

I think I understand, I could show for example a toy car, but not the box the toy car came in?

Customer:

Ok, I think I'm almost there. Lets say for example I use a jack-in-the box. It's used for it;s intended purpose, but it scares the hell out of someone - would that be ok?

Alex Watts :

That would be fine.

Customer:

can I clarify this answer above :




Alex Watts says:

3:20 PM



No, you can show it being ripped apart and yes even if generic



Customer:

Did you mean I can show the toy being ripped apart - I dont need permission?

Alex Watts :

You dont need permission for it being destroyed.

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything else?

Customer:

One more thing, just so I'm clear a) So I dont need any permission to show any of the toys in my film even if they may be considered offensive? b) the only thing I have to be concerned with is artwork/design. Finally c)How would I find out if that toy was trademarked? for example I doubt I could use Mickey Mouse....

Alex Watts :

You can search for patents/trademarks here:

Alex Watts :

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/

Alex Watts :

They have an online search

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything?

Customer:

please clafiry a and b above and I'm done ;-) I really appreiacte your help!

Alex Watts :

a) No

Alex Watts :

b) you didnt ask a question about this?

Customer:

sorry - b) you're saying I can show the toy, but NOT the boxes they came in? Are you saying I can show for example the board game mouse trap - but not the artwork on the box?

Alex Watts :

Yes

Customer:

great, thanks for your help.

Alex Watts :

If this answers your question could I invite you leave feedback on my service which I hope has been excellent today, if you need more information or help then please click reply.


Please remember that I am always happy to help if you have future questions, even if I am in Court I can normally respond within a few hours. For future information, please start them with ‘For Alex W’.


 


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