January 27, 2016 at 6:38PM, Edited January 27, 6:38PM

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Can I use big brand name like Burger King in my personal short film?

So I am trying to make my first short film, like no budget short film that is only probably going to go up on youtube or vimeo and nothing more. And wondering how the copyright works on using the brand name and their products on the film?

Can anyone help please.

Thank you

14 Comments

I don't think you can technically. But if you aren't going to be sending the films to festivals or aren't trying to make personal gains from it I don't think Burger King would do much about it unless maybe you were casting them in a very bad light. The most they would do is likely ask YouTube or whatever service you upload it to to take it down.

January 28, 2016 at 11:27AM

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Alex Everingham
Video Editor
537

Thank you for your reply.
Yea, just a short film to get me started on actually shooting stuff. It would only go far as youtube and vimeo. And I don't think the story is really aimed on bashing them like SUPER SIZED ME(hint), but more towards on customer service on fast food restaurant based on my personal experiences.
But just to be safe I should alter some stuff on the story so people will know which brand it is without showing what it is.

Keith Kim

January 28, 2016 at 12:35PM

I would recommend against it if possible. Even though it's going to be your first short film, you never know, it could take off and go viral, and it would suck for that momentum to all come to a halt because a burger king executive notices a BK logo on a cup.

January 28, 2016 at 12:02PM

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Decided I'm going to change it little bit so it won't show the brand but people will know which brand it is. Just need to figure out how I am going to do that visually. =P
I don't think I have to worry about getting my first short going viral. haha~
I just want to get something shot, keep on talking about it with my friends but never getting it done you know.

Thank you for the reply.

Keith Kim

January 28, 2016 at 12:39PM, Edited January 28, 12:38PM

Since you're going to be filming more in the future, it's just a good practice to get into by not using brand names. As long as you cover up the logo , you should be fine.

January 28, 2016 at 10:33PM

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Brittany Nisco
Director/Producer
312

It depends on the depiction of Burger King in your short film. If its logo happens to be in the background on say like a billboard, but the characters make no mention of it, then you should be golden. However if you are openly talking about Burger King in your movie and its in any way negative, you run the risk of getting a lovely letter from the BK legal department.

January 29, 2016 at 8:25AM

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Nicholas Ortiz
Director/Writer/Stuntman
250

Look up fair use, most likely your fine. Logos are usually covered up in tv shows because the producer didn't get a check from Apple or another company.

The rules are -

the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
the nature of the copyrighted work;
the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

If you show it for only a small part of your film, you aren't making money from your film, you are making a commentary on society, and most important you do not interfere with their ability to profit from said cup/logo.

If you fall within these guidelines of fair use, legally you are fine.

January 29, 2016 at 10:20AM

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I'm pretty sure it's fine. Check this book out. I read it but last year so I'm kind of forgetting at the moment - http://www.amazon.com/Clearance-Copyright-4th-Edition-Everything/dp/1935...

January 29, 2016 at 2:24PM

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Brooks Reynolds
Director/DOP
583

I will check this book out for future use as well.
Thank you.

Keith Kim

February 1, 2016 at 12:54PM

Brooks is recommending a really great book. Watch this video to hear the authors address the very issue you're asking about. They talk about an entire feature film that was shot inside Disneyworld - and got released. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64WGwD6VIhI&index=1&list=PLez8jOvskc-Maf...

January 29, 2016 at 8:51PM

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Deeder Murray-Holmes
Producer
357

Right, I remember, I've seen this movie. Thank you for sharing.

Keith Kim

February 1, 2016 at 12:57PM

So it's totally fine. It's fine by the law and it's fine for the brand as it is free advertising. Usually production avoid to use big brand name as they use only the ones who pay to appear.
More than that you can do whaterver you want with their brand name, logo or in front of their shop and put it in your film. I think it's even better to use it in our films as those big brand are part of our life, it would be weird to hide the logo on the iphones or change the label on the coca-cola bottle for a generic red and white name, it would feel unreal and cheap.
As you see in supersize me they don't have any issue saying bad things about Mc Donald. The short film logorama is well known and use only brand name and logo : https://vimeo.com/10149605
So yes you are fine, make your film and show it to us after !

January 30, 2016 at 5:00PM, Edited January 30, 5:04PM

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AvdS
1188

Thank you everyone for you replies, Upon reading all your thoughts I've decided to just keep the brand. I will share the short film with you guys when it's finished.
Thanks again for your time guys! =)

February 1, 2016 at 12:56PM

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Keith Kim
Photographer
1357

Of course you can. Would be better if you got a check from BK, but that wont happen.
Many films use logos without consent, big names usually pay for placement. You are fine.

February 1, 2016 at 1:07PM

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Alex Gans
Director/Editor
134

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