View Full Version : fair use of character images?

Justin Kuhn
05-19-2009, 02:15 AM
So I want to place a scene in a script I'm revising in a comic shop. Obviously the best way to capture the setting is shoot all the comics and action/clix figures, but I'm worried about running into trademark or copyright issues. I don't want to use the characters, I just want to reference them visually on the screen as well as in my own characters' dialogue. This qualifies as fair use, am I right?

Sad Max
05-19-2009, 09:46 AM
From the majors' perspective 'fair use' appears to have fallen by the wayside. Any time we want to use trademarked or copyrighted material in-frame, we have to get clearance through legal, which about half the time either refuses outright or plays roadblock until we just develop something original to use, instead.

For a comparatively small, non-commercial project I don't believe that you need to worry about the clearances, particularly if your use is clearly non-defamatory. If you are producing a more major or commercial project I suggest you cover yourself by obtaining written releases from the trademark and copyright holders.

Justin Kuhn
05-19-2009, 09:14 PM
Re-rewrite it is. Good thing I hadn't rewritten much of that scene.

Sad Max
05-20-2009, 07:42 AM
You might not want to junk the setting until writing those release letters - chances are fair to good that the publishers will be willing to oblige you, and it *does* sound like a good way to create a sense of place.

Justin Kuhn
05-20-2009, 10:35 AM
Well, I wanted my character to use Hero Clix figures to illustrate the story he's telling to a couple of other characters. I can switch the setting to a hobby shop instead of a comic shop and eliminate a lot of copyright issues without changing the people in the scene, and the character can use Warhammer instead of Hero Clix. Different but the same. I feel like it'd be easier to get permission from the Warhammer people also. Could be wrong though.

05-20-2009, 10:36 AM

You could dummy up some covers for establishing the idea that the scene is inside a comic book shop, and then shoot CUs using shallow focus to blur the BG inside the comic book shop. If your BG is blurrred out (unrecognizable) while your characters interact you might be able to sell the scene convincingly without any trouble. Comics are currently a very big $ item in Hollywood, i.e., Batman, Superman, etc... I doubt getting clearance would be easy on this.

I suggest you focus your aim on creating the impression of the location in the mind of the audience, afterall that's what movies are, just impressions of something occurring in outer space, or 1592 Spain, or in 152 BC Rome ... Nothing says it has to be real, only the impression within the audience's mind needs to be real for the moment.

06-01-2009, 07:27 PM
one of my actresses has a pac man and mrs pac man tattoo on her wrist. In a scene where she is clapping her hands, flashes of the tattoo can be seen and the identity of the image somewhat made out.....

Is this a problem?

I can most likely remove it frame by frame in after effects...the shots is only three seconds long

what do you think?

06-01-2009, 11:31 PM
My 2 cents: For a serious release it is better to be safe then sorry; a student short or a little contest thingy is another story because it will never go anywhere. Lawyers have full time jobs because someone thought it was OK, .... hey nobodies gonna get hurt, etc... eventually the owners will find out and raise hell.

06-09-2009, 06:48 PM
Take a look at Bound by the Law - a free downloadable comic book on copyright issues - it's an easy, excellent read - and should answer all your questions, hopefully! http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/digital.php