Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I'm all questions here

Copyright and trademark law is so bizarre. Not that I know that much about it. It seems the music and film companies are highly fixated on it though. If I understand correctly, you are allowed to take a picture or record a video of a TV show, but you are not permitted to show it publicly. To your friends is fine, and maybe friends of friends, but that's it. The same apparently goes for taking pictures and videos in public. I've had a couple videos removed from youtube because I admitted in the description that I didn't know the subjects in the video. (So now I never mention that.) And now we see constantly blurred faces and logos on clothing on TV. I thought the whole point of copyrighting was to get a cut of anything others might make off of the material. How can strangers passing in the background constitute a way of making money? Don't you find it a little niggling all this blurring of everything? This world on so many levels is looking more and more like the world in the film Brazil.

Is it the litigation? The blurring of the logos? Is it just the media companies being petty and not wanting to give "free advertising" to any one company? Do you think there are lawyers huddling in front of the television waiting to contact any non-blurred individuals that appear in order to help them sue for damages? Libel? Unlawful use of my image? Doesn't it all seem a bit ridiculous? Can you imagine suing someone for filming you when you passed by in the background? Wouldn't you announce to all your friends instead that you had been on TV?

I searched for answers and I got a lot of supposing. Couldn't really find a layman's explanation from an expert.

Still, I found some interesting links as I searched for answers:

How to blur a license plate or other region on the video.

How to then copy and extract the information from blurred check or credit card numbers!

Very interesting, but a lot of hot air I suspect.

18 comments:

Snooze said...

I'm the type of person who wouldn't want to be in the background of someone's video. It's a privacy issue for me.

Ed said...

a bit off topic but when people started getting those huge discs in their yards to pick up signals the industry took umbridge and tried to stop them. Those people said if you don't want us to pick up the signals stop sending them onto our property. Soon they started scrambling the signal.

Lemuel said...

Gone are the days for most of us when we are excited to see ourselves on TV or in a film.

Perhaps some of it is also related to the branding that is used in films. Gone are generic beers, sodas, anything in movies. The actor is drinking Pepsi for a reason - because Pepsi paid for the "ad" and because Pepsi wants the viewer to drink their soda.

I agree. It is another area in which we have gone nutzo.

dbv said...

it's the lawyers, always...

Laverne said...

I'm with Snooze. I don't really want to be in someone else's video.

It's the reason I don't put pictures of anyone on my blog without permission, or use their names.

bob said...

Part of it is product placement and part of it is liabilty. Coca cola doesn't want to be associated with the crackhead getting busted on "Cops" so they have to blur out that image (plus, the Coke image is trademarked so to broadcast it w/out permision could get you in trouble).

And what about the poor guy who was unsuspectingly caught on camera in the background of a news shot outside a sauna in Montreal when his wife thought he was on business in Ottawa? Not everyone wants to be filmed.

Of course, here in London *everyone* is on CCTV all the time (unless you're killing a Russian spy).

GayProf said...

There is another layer of copyright that involves academics and "fair use." Films, for instance, that are used in classes for critical study fall under this category -- But the film companies would like to close that loop hole.

Chunks said...

All I know about copyrites and trademark laws is that it's the reason you can't see a good Prince Video on YouTube. Frigging whiner.

Normlr said...

Apparently the Google Maps Street View feature goes against Canadian privacy laws. Therefore everyone in it will have their faces blurred when they start filming our cities.

David said...

I don't think it's all that ridiculous. For blurred logos, it's a matter of income stream. As someone said, if someone drinks a can of Pepsi in a movie or tv show, Pepsi paid for that placement. If a company doesn't pay for it, the movie or tv show people don't want to give them free publicity.

Many people are also very private. If you are such a person and then watch a show and see yourself in the background, you might feel very exposed. I wouldn't care, but I respect that other people would. Therefore, programs are required to blur out faces. They actually hate doing it, it takes time and costs money, but they don't want a lawsuit if someone feels their image has been used improperly.

mainja said...

I don't know the details of this, but I do know that if you want to use a product in a film you have to pay for the privledge. I have a friend who makes movies and they always have to obscure the brand or make up new products to get around this.

If the movie is going to be big enough though then a company might pay for product placement, but there are rules around that. if it's pepsi for instance then they would insist that there be no coke products visible in the entire move, etc etc.

Patricia said...

does this mean that i can expect to get a royalty check from my city which has posted a video camera at just about every major intersection?

i'll be looking for that check.

tornwordo said...

I guess I don't really understand the "privacy" issue. If you're out in public, are people not allowed to look at you? Because not wanting to be filmed is the same thing, you want to control who looks at you. I can respect the position but it doesn't seem doable in any real way.

Truthspew said...

Regarding background people and license plates, you really have no duty to blur the photos since there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public space.

My videos and photos catch people all the time that I don't personally know but since we're all in a public place they have no right to stop me from posting the content to the web should I wish.

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

In our culture, literally everything has become monetized. It's hard to believe, but once upon a time, people were considered to have intrinsic value that superseded a money value.
Now the idea that one shouldn't make money from literally everything is dismissed as unrealistic.
All Hail, Mammon!

em said...

yeah, what Daniel said.

There is a photographer, an Artist, who put up photo blinds around NYC and took portraits of unsuspecting people as they went about their business. Then he chose some of those pictures and put together a show of random portraits out of them. He was saying things about anonymity and ...well, stuff. (She said, only mildly sarcastically.) The show was made into a coffee table book, and one day, an orthodox Jew discovered that his was one of the portraits that the guy had used. I think I remember that there was an issue with his religious views and being photographed, but beyond that, the artist had had a showing and sold the image for publication, all without compensating or even notifying the people involved.

That's an extreme example, but I think the guy had a point.

Still, I'm fine with my image being places unless someone is making money from it. Then I would like a cut and the right to approve or decline. But maybe that is because I can't be trapped on camera someplace I am not supposed to be.

Sorry for the book sized comment.

Anonymous said...

They show people on the news all the time. I wouldn't want to be on it, even as an innocent passerby because hubby watches the news and youtube vids and i go places where i should'nt.I believe the reason they blur t-shirt ads etc on tv is to not give them a free commercial.
Janice

mainja said...

em - not sure about the states, but in canada there are rules around use of images for profit.

so, if you are going to sell a picture you have to get a model release from the person who is in it. actually, it's if you are going to use it for profit or gain, which is why a photographer will ask for a model release if you've gone to get your portrait because they may want to use the picture they take in a portfolio.

there are separate rules for journalism, i don't really understand them, but i think basically you can take a picture or film whatever you'd like, even though someone is profiting. the theory I guess is just that it's an element of the product, instead of the product itself? I have no idea, I'm making that up...