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Redstreak
05-19-2011, 12:32 PM
Hey guys, I'm doing production design for a short that involves a presidential address.

It should be pretty simple, just one shot that will start with a medium close-up and track backwards to reveal a medium shot. I've got a nice wood bookshelf in an office that will do nicely for the background, mics, podium, American flags, but I'm wondering about the presidential seal.

I feel like it'll be conspicuous if absent, but I assume that I'd never be allowed to use the actual design... Should I just design my own seal that looks very similar, but with slightly different wording? Or should I make it very different, and just make sure that nobody draws attention to it?

Any advice?

Thanks,
- David

Huy Vu
05-19-2011, 02:31 PM
It's perfectly acceptable to slightly modify the seal (i.e the wording) so that it's not exactly the actual seal. Obama himself did this for a speech before he became president.

David G. Smith
05-19-2011, 02:43 PM
Why would you not be able to use the actual presidential seal? It's a movie for pete's sake. Just put that normal disclaimer at the end, "...no one living or dead...." and you should be fine. If you are freaked out about it. Call the US Secret Service and ask them about it.

Huy Vu
05-19-2011, 02:52 PM
Why would you not be able to use the actual presidential seal? It's a movie for pete's sake. Just put that normal disclaimer at the end, "...no one living or dead...." and you should be fine. If you are freaked out about it. Call the US Secret Service and ask them about it.

Commercial use of the seal is prohibited under US law

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00000713----000-.html

David G. Smith
05-19-2011, 03:27 PM
Commercial use of the seal is prohibited under US law

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00000713----000-.html

"...for the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof... "

Huy Vu
05-19-2011, 03:54 PM
"...for the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof... "

We can argue semantics all we want, but you can decide whether it's easier to spend 30 minutes in Photoshop to change up the seal or spend money on a lawyer to defend your use of the actual seal if anything happened.

David G. Smith
05-19-2011, 04:13 PM
We can argue semantics all we want, but you can decide whether it's easier to spend 30 minutes in Photoshop to change up the seal or spend money on a lawyer to defend your use of the actual seal if anything happened.
I guess. Change it then. I just think that using the real one ranks up there with removing the tags from your mattress in possible real world consequences.

Crafters of Light
05-19-2011, 05:17 PM
Yeah but mattress and pillow tags have the "...except by consumer." caveat on them. I don't think we are talking about buying the presidential seal here.

you could use "Seal of a resident of the United States"

David G. Smith
05-19-2011, 06:40 PM
I just find it very hard to believe that the United States Department of Justice is going to take the time, and spend the money, to mount a Federal prosecution for the use of the Presidential Seal in a short film. Now if the short film is of a politically inflammatory nature then I don't think that it would find a venue with broad enough appeal to even come to the attention of the USDOJ and if that be the case, would the producers really give a sh*t what the USDOJ thought about it? Of course, the real discussion the OP should have is with the producers of the film. Yes, there are legal constraints to the use of the Presidential Seal, so what do they want to do about it?

Now, if ya'll decide to use it and the worse case happens... and you end up in the U.S. Federal Prison in Richmond Va... tell my cousin Henry I said, "Howdy" and that I will send him some more cigarettes next payday!!