Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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Vic Pardo
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Re: Film Stills and Copyright

#26 Post by Vic Pardo » Tue May 05, 2009 5:20 pm

Funny story: Some 30-odd years ago, Jimmy Breslin (famous NYC newspaper columnist/novelist) was looking over the galleys of his latest novel and there were still some clearances to obtain, boilerplate stuff that had been left to the last minute, including an okay from Irving Berlin (who was still alive at the time--he died in 1989) to refer to his song, "The Girl that I Marry," in a scene where the band at a wedding reception is playing the song and the narrator twists the lyrics to fit the situation. I think the only portion of the song that was intact in the text was "the girl that I marry." They sent the request to Berlin and got back a speedy and firm "No." So they had to reset the text from that point in the novel on, which cost some money. (This was before typesetting was computerized.) Breslin was furious. (Couldn't someone in Breslin's circle have simply informed him about Berlin's legendary difficulty and then just rewrite the passage before typesetting it?) Breslin wrote a column about this during the hubbub over Berlin's 100th birthday in 1988. And he hasn't gotten over it.

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MichaelB
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Re: Film Stills and Copyright

#27 Post by MichaelB » Thu May 07, 2009 1:27 am

The number of times I've come across situations where artists have just assumed that rights clearances will be a breeze is heartbreaking - this is why the original version of the Quay Brothers' The Phantom Museum and Patrick Keiller's third feature The Dilapidated Dwelling are effectively undistributable, at least in a commercial environment.

(The former used music by Zdeněk Liška, whose widow notoriously refuses all exploitation requests, while the latter used a lot of archive footage in the blithe and erroneous assumption that it would be either free or cheap to clear).

In fact, didn't the budget of Reservoir Dogs have to increase substantially (by a third, according to some sources - from $800k to $1.2 million) after Tarantino dramatically underestimated the cost of clearing 'Stuck in the Middle With You' - which he only got round to doing after shooting a scene in which it plays a pivotal role?

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FerdinandGriffon
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Film Stills, Production Photos and Press Photos

#28 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:55 pm

A major American film critic will be coming out with what I suspect will be considered his magnum opus in the next couple of months, and I've been tasked with finding a good cover image for it. I've been trawling through my usual recreational sources for film stills, production photos, and press photos, but I was hoping some forum members could recommend sources I might not be aware of. Any ideas, gang?

The book is a personal history of the medium and generally focuses on American film, but has lengthy detours into mid-twentieth century German, French and Italian film, and devotes several chapters to individual directors or stars (Hitchcock, Ingrid Bergman, Steven Spielberg, Jean Renoir, Rossellini, etc.). Later chapters cover more general subjects, like the blockbuster or onscreen sex and violence.

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Matt
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos and Press Photos

#29 Post by Matt » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:18 pm

With the MoMA Film Stills Archive shut down and its collection likely rotting away in some dark warehouse, some of the best available options are:

Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research

Academy Film Archive Center for Motion Picture Study

Photofest (has online search, but you must create an account)

Picture Desk (The Kobal Collection - has online search, but you must create an account)

The British Film Institute: Stills, Posters and Designs

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carax09
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#30 Post by carax09 » Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:32 pm

How about Dr. Macro's High Quality Movie Scans? There's some lovely high quality scans, in that archive.

joseywales
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#31 Post by joseywales » Wed May 21, 2014 3:50 pm

Does anyone know,are you allowed to use still images from movies for your own financial benefit?
e.g Artwork

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ellipsis7
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#32 Post by ellipsis7 » Thu May 22, 2014 6:50 am

Absolutely not, copyright prevails unless the material is in the public domain... There is also possible 'fair use' for limited quotation strictly in a critical context for material under copyright, but not for any commercial exploitation whatsoever of the copyrighted material without permission...

joseywales
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#33 Post by joseywales » Thu May 22, 2014 4:13 pm

The reason i posted the question is because i know an artist who uses silk screen printing and he uses still images from different films e.g Bond films,Steve Mcqueen films and alot more for his financial benefit.
Is this allowed??????

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jindianajonz
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#34 Post by jindianajonz » Thu May 22, 2014 7:27 pm

Disclaimer: Not at all a lawyer.

My (extremely limited) understanding of copyright law in the US is that nothing is "allowed" until it is proven in a court of law. There is also no clear cut distinction between "allowed" and "forbidden"- instead, copyright exists on a spectrum between "you'll almost certainly lose in a court of law" and "you'll probably be ok". Generally speaking, the closer the work is to the original, the more likely it is to be struck down. As you change details or add stylization to make it your own, you get safer and safer. So Bootlegging a DVD of a movie is almost certainly illegal. Selling a blown up still from the film with the film's logo* across it is not good. If you paint an original impressionistic rendition of a still from the film, you will probably be ok. If change the composition of your artwork so it is not an exact copy of the scene, this is even better. The bottom line is the more you deviate from the source, the better off you are.

Also keep in mind that unless you are raking in tons of cash from this business, if you do get caught you will most likely just get a cease and desist letter. Also keep in mind that this action has to come from the studio that owns (or believes they own) the copyright, so the more you attract their attention, the more likely they are to act against you.

One interesting thing about copyright law is that copyrights only apply to certain areas. Let's use a real example of Warhammer figurines (This is the where I learned all this copyright stuff from). Games Workshop, the company behind Warhammer released a book that announced a figure that didn't have a model yet. They included a picture in the book, so people knew what it looks like when it was eventually released. Now, since they've commercially released the picture, they have a copyright on that image, but they don't have a copyright on the model made from that image (because models and figurines fall under a different category than images). Normally a company would pay a fee to file for an intent-to-use copyright, but Games Workshop cut corners and never did this. Another company came along and made the model before Games Workshop could, and since they were the first to produce a figurine of this name, it seems likely that they will own the copyright to it, even though Games Workshop created the image and the "idea" for the figure(this trial is stuck in appeals at the moment, so the outcome hasn't been definitively determined). Since films are a collection of images I'm guessing the studios are covered for most direct reproductions, and the studios are likely to widely file for intent to use in areas like toys, figurines, beach towels, etc. But it is something to keep in mind.

*Using a logo from a film would probably fall under trademark, not copyright. I know even less about this, but the general idea is that a trademark is there to make sure people know where a product is coming from. The Nike swoosh and the slogan "Just Do It" are trademarks of Nike- if you made a shirt with these things on it, reasonable people would believe it was a legitimate Nike product and you would run afoul of of trademark laws. Even if your artwork is original, you can't create something that features Micky Mouse, Luke Skywalker, Ronald McDonald, or any other trademarked character. One notable exception to this is satire- a satirical work lets you get away with a lot more than you normally could.

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Black Hat
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#35 Post by Black Hat » Mon Jun 02, 2014 11:21 pm

Always wanted to know how The Smiths managed to get away with using all the movie stills for their record covers.

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"membrillo"
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#36 Post by "membrillo" » Tue Jun 03, 2014 1:35 pm

Black Hat wrote:Always wanted to know how The Smiths managed to get away with using all the movie stills for their record covers.
It was my understanding that Rough Trade had to get permission for all of the sleeves. If you can get a hold of a copy of Peepholism, there are numerous alternate sleeves that had to be rejected because of issues about permission. If I remember correctly, I think there is even a scan of a handwritten note from Alain Delon about TQID sleeve

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zedz
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#37 Post by zedz » Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:24 pm

And sometimes rightsholders did the hokey cokey with their permissions, which is why we have this:
Image

markad5
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#38 Post by markad5 » Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:36 am

I've got sort of a side question. I want to use some images in a book that were taken by people working on the film (set designer, costume designer, etc). They are from the personal collections of these individuals. However, given that they were working for the film, and that film copyright is based on a work-for-hire model, and that the images are of the films behind the scenes, will the studios claim that they own the images? Do I have to seek permission from and credit both the photographer and the film studio? The studios that own these films are the ones that are most likely to make a fuss over them. Would this fall under fair use?

Thanks!

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filmyfan
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#39 Post by filmyfan » Wed Aug 13, 2014 6:42 am

Question-Many of Buster Keaton's early silents are Public Domain-how does it work for the film stills from these shorts-not the actual screen grabs-but the production stills-how does one find out who owns them ?

Could I use them on a commercial product freely ?


Thanks !

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mfunk9786
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#40 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Nov 10, 2014 6:13 pm


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Tom Amolad
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#41 Post by Tom Amolad » Thu Dec 08, 2016 12:17 pm

I've gotten permission to use a film still on a book cover -- permission from the studio (by way of a stills archive), that is. I suspect I also need permission from the (identifiable) actors in the shot. How would I go about that? The actor in question is De Niro.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#42 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Dec 08, 2016 12:36 pm

Contact his agency. I don't know if his agent will handle this himself, but I'm sure they'll point you in the right direction and make sure it's taken care of. (Make sure you have any documentation of the studio's permission ready since it'll probably help if it's immediately clear that this is legitimate and you're just waiting on them.)

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Tom Amolad
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Re: Film Stills, Production Photos, and Press Photos

#43 Post by Tom Amolad » Thu Dec 08, 2016 12:40 pm

Thanks. But my question is actually, How do I find out who his agent is? A google search didn't come up with much, except for a bunch of sites that want me to pay them to tell me who it is.

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