Copyright insanity

This one takes the cake. It seems that the producers of the new “Bewitched” film — which is set in San Francisco — had to airbrush the Transamerica building from scenes of downtown, because the building itself is a registered trademark. The producers either could not or did not get the rights to use it.


(NOTE: I took the picture on the left last month. I am in violation of their trademark. Oh no!)

Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that the whole thing seems silly, but it’s not:

I mean, there it is, big as sin and taller than Coit Tower. Do we have to pay Transamerica every time we glimpse it? Do I have to pay Transamerica every time I type “Transamerica Pyramid”? Here’s a more relevant question: What are the chances the Transamerica would use its high‐ priced lawyers to sue a major film studio over a skyline shot?

Doesn’t matter. Filmmakers are required to carry “errors and omissions” insurance, which guarantees that the distributors and/or theater owners, DVD makers, television networks or whatever will not be liable for infringements of rights. Insurers, who want to cover their butts and have no particular investment in the quality of the film, set high and rigid barriers before they will issue such insurance.

Which means everything, everything, has to be cleared.

Go read Carroll’s whole column for a dose silliness gone to seed and some great facts.

The copyright industry is this country’s largest export. Is it any wonder the America people are so hip to media, and why they/we want to do it ourselves? This whole rights business is out of control, and everybody knows it. And someday it’ll blow up in the face of the very people who perpetrate this nonsense.


  1. This of course reminds me of a story last week, I think it was, in the New York Times who owns the word “Stealth” and is trying to sue the makers of the new movie by that name.

  2. http://Jeffrey%20Alan says

    Your link to the “whole column” does not work.

  3. http://Terry says

    Oops. My bad, Jeffrey. It’s fixed now. Sorry.

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